Choosing a major that pays – The best entry level careers for paying off student loan debt

You did it! You are officially a high school graduate and looking toward your future career. Over the years, you have been taught from a very young age to follow your passions… but at the end of the day, will your passion pay the bills? As your financial institution, we see many young adults walk out of college with thousands of dollars in student loans and entry level positions where they struggle to make that loan payment.

When choosing your college major, consider these 3 questions:

Will my entry level salary be enough to make my monthly student loan payment?

The average college student will leave with a college degree and $29,800 in student loan debt. The average student loan payment is around $400 per month.  If you choose a career in the STEM field of study (science, technology, engineering and medicine), you will most likely be fine. The top ten entry level career positions where students pay less than 10% of their income toward a student loan payment every month can be found in the STEM fields.

Young adults paying the highest percentage of their income (up to 25%) toward student loans are graduates of performing arts and humanities programs. Be sure to do your research on your chosen field of study. What is the average entry-level income? How in-demand are these jobs? And finally, how much debt will you need to pay off?

Multiracial students are walking in university hall during break and communicating.


What will my “after college” life look like?

Do you plan to pack up and move to a different city where you will be on your own? Will you have roommates to split the cost of rent? Is it an option to move back home with Mom and Dad to save up money and pay off debt? Some college graduates get married within a few years of graduation. Now you and your spouse may both be paying off loans. With the average student loan payment of $400, you and your spouse could be paying a small mortgage ($800) in student loan payments every month! These are all questions that need to be considered when you take on a high amount of student debt.


Happy young woman moving to new home - having fun

How do I keep my student loan debt low?

We are strong proponents of following your dreams and passions! Not everyone wants a career in the STEM field. Instead of choosing a field you aren’t passionate about, look at ways to keep your student loan debt low.

  • Community College: Have you considered a Community College to cover the first 2 years of your education? The average cost for community college is $3500 a year, compared to $16,000 per year at a State School. If you have a community college nearby, you may have the option of living at home and saving on the cost of room and board.
  • Become an RA: Another great way to save money is signing up to be a Resident Advisor (RA). At many colleges, RA’s get room and board FREE!
  • REALLY consider your lowest tuition option: Many students have parents who work for schools or corporations that offer tuition discounts at specific colleges or universities. REALLY consider these options. If you can get 100% tuition coverage at a specific school, can you find a major that fits your passions? Walking out of college debt free could be worth the slight change in plans.
  • Exhaust all awards and scholarships: There are so many scholarships available to college students. Be sure to do your research and apply to any and all scholarships that you qualify for! As members of Blue Chip FCU, you automatically qualify to apply for our BCFCU Academic Scholarship. Each spring, we give out 3 $1,000 scholarships to our members. Our scholarship is available to any member continuing their education. This includes traditional 4-year institutions as well as trade schools and continuing adult education.
College Students at the park

Once you choose your major and the school that best fits your career aspirations, be sure to turn to your credit union for help in paying for the cost of tuition. In addition to our college scholarships, Blue Chip FCU also offers low-rate Sallie Mae Student Loans.

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