Do you currently know of someone that will soon graduate high school and will head off to college? I think every single one of us could quickly name 10+ people that will be extending their education to the college level within the next few years.
What if you had the secret to getting through college debt free? Would you be willing to share it with them? I sure hope so. When you are in your twenties, you have a great opportunity to learn about money and follow some great advice. Get out your notepad and pencil, because here’s a plan that anyone can follow in order to get through college without any debt.
If you’re currently in high school, the ACT and SAT are the single most important tests of your life. If you score well on these tests, you will not only get accepted into college, you’ll most likely get a free ride! This sounds exciting and all, but you’re probably thinking that only the gifted students can score well on this test. While it is true that intelligent students do well on these tests, for the most part, the questions are fairly standard from year to year, which means that if you spend the proper time studying, anyone could score well! This SAT prep blog can give you some insights about both tests, though I suggest that all students take a study course in order to get adequately prepared.
If you fall short of a free ride to your desired university, don’t sweat it. You can still graduate from there, but it might be wise for you to start at the local community college. First of all, classes are much cheaper at a community college, which will make it easier for you to pay for it. Second, if you get good grades in your classes, you’ll have another chance to qualify for scholarships at the university. Third, if you stick with community college for two years and get your associate’s degree, there may be programs that allow you to get credit for more classes than you actually took when transferring to the university. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true! All in all, community college is a wise choice!
Get a Job!
Some students wait until after they graduate before they get their first job. This is absolutely ridiculous. If you want to graduate without any debt, you’ve got to work both during school, and during the summer.
Live With Your Parents
I understand that it’s not super cool to live at home with your parents, but this move will likely save you $5,000 a year. If you choose to live outside of your parents’ house, you’ll just have to work all that much harder to avoid loads of debt at graduation.
Apply For Scholarships
If you decide to take your first two years of classes at the community college, keep an eye on the scholarships that are available to the university that you plan to attend. If you just navigate through their website, you should be able to find hundreds of scholarships – many of which you’ll be eligible for. If I were you, I wouldn’t spend as much time on the massive scholarship sites. There are way too many people that are eyeballing the same scholarships as you and your chances are slim. It’s best to devote your time to the local scholarships.
You should also fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form. Your university will provide the form and it is used to determine your need for financial aid as you attend university. You could receive federal student loans or grants just by filling out this form and, in some cases, you might find that you are eligible for a federal work-study. Meet with an academic advisor at your university to look at your financial aid options, as they will ensure that receive the maximum assistance for which you qualify.
You can earn your degree without debt. What are you doing to get through college without student loans?
21 thoughts on “Earn Your Degree Without the Debt”
I went the job and scholarships route. I think that community college gets looked over a lot, but if someone were to live at home with a part time job and community college for 2 years, I think they would stand a pretty good chance of becoming debt free.
I went to community college one summer just so that I could easily knock out a lot of credits. I was able to take 12 credits (all while working full-time) and that saved me nearly $15,000 by not having to take those credits at my university.
Daisy…!!! Your tips make terrific sense and everyone ought to be using them. So sad these simple steps are so under-utilized!!! I took a student loan in 1992 and finished March 2013. And my last payment was about $9000 because I just wanted to finish it off. When Tammy went for her masters a few years back, we paid in cash. They were itchy and scratchy times, but we are so happy not to have that loan on top of all our other bills!!!
I went the community college route and it saved me a huge chunk of money. I think I got my Associate’s for the cost of one semester where I eventually got my B.A. from.
There is nothing wrong with going to community college to get some credits out of the way and figure out what you want to focus on. Some look down to community colleges, but I think they are a great resource.
When I went to university many moons ago here in the UK, it was all free including a maintenance grant. Very few went off so I was very privileged. This was the system also enjoyed by many senior politicians.
Now the massive expansion of universities here has meant that they have to charge what, to us, are obscene fees – up to £9k or $14k – and there are no maintenance grants, just unsecured low interest student loans that you don’t have to start paying back until your income reaches a certain level.
Apart from the hypocracy, we don’t have the many varied types of scholarships, culture of alumni support that exists in the US so it ia very difficult to gradute without quite a lot of debt.
I worked various restaurant jobs all through college. It sucked missing out on some of the weekend parties at the time, but graduating with next to no debt more than made up for that in the long run.
As someone who spends many hours a day advising people on student loans, I would add one other thought to this discussion: All student loan debt is not created equal. Private loans are the ones you REALLY want to avoid. If a few thousand loaned from the Federal government can make the difference, than it might not be a bad option.
Though I enjoyed the college experience I would definately hit up community college if I had to do it over and would stay with my parents while doing it. i have a lot of friend who did the 2 year degree in a specialized field and not only are they making good money they are debt free. I also worked full time while people just walked around campus playing and setting outside talking.
I paid for college out of my own pocket per semester. I paid each quarter when the bill came in. I had no loans or debt but paid by hard work and a desire to not fall into money issues.
These are all great tips! I don’t think that college students realize how oppressive student loan debt can really be…until it’s too late!
These are great tips. I used quite a few of these while in college, but still ended up with a little bit of debt. The good thing is, I was able to pay all of it off in less than 2 years after graduating, so I consider myself pretty lucky.
I took out a loan for my first degree but got smarter with my second. I worked for the university, so one of my benefits for free tuition. So, I just worked while taking classes until I was able to claim all of my classes for free. 🙂
First time visitor to this blog- love the content & the positive messages your team delivers.
In regards to this article, I totally agree with all your points and would add to highly consider a public state school over a private school (costs are sometimes 3x-5x higher if you go the private school route).
I can’t emphasize how great this tips are- I did every single one of them! I graduated with just $5k in loans which was very manageable and eliminated within 2 years of graduation.
Yep – in the UK and (I think worldwide?) there’s something called OpenUniversity too where you can apply for a grant and don’t have to pay it back or basically fund any of your learning, I did it myself for psychology but ultimately failed due to lazily not completing the work on time… I’ll try again soon though! But yeah, that’s always an option.
I decided to go the scholarship route and applied for a co-op program and have worked for just under 2 years throughout my degree in industry related jobs. Definitely recommend the job idea especially if it’s related to what you want to do post-grad. I unfortunately moved away from home and lived at school which has cost me quite a bit of money, but I’ve become a much more independent and self sufficient person because of it. Probably heading home for a bit after school is done though, but once I move out it won’t be a major adjustment. It’s all about gaining experiences vs. money, I guess in the end I could have lived at home and that would have left me without debt.