Student loan debt in the US has topped $1.3 trillion with the average student facing $37,000 in debt when they finish.
Back in the day, it was possible to pay for a college education just by working a summer job. Though those days are long gone, it is still possible to pay for college without taking on massive debt.
In this article, I will go over some ways you can avoid student loans altogether, or at least minimize how much you owe when you do finish.
Come up with a budget
There are numerous ways to get aid for college so you aren’t paying much out of pocket. But, you may not get 100% of your tuition covered so you will likely be paying for some of it or other related expenses.
Come up with a budget and see where you can realistically cut some fat.
You should also be setting aside some money to put into some investment accounts like mutual or index funds. That way you can have your extra money working for you in case you do need to take out loans. Then when you are done with college you can use that extra money to pay off any loans right away.
Learn more about it from a financial site like MoneyMonarch to see what your investment options are.
Work while you study
You may get lucky and have an employer pay for school like Starbucks who pays for their baristas to go to college, in which case you will kill two birds with one stone. You can have some money for expenses from work while you get a seriously reduced tuition thanks to your employer.
You should try for a work study job for the college. You can usually find these jobs through the financial office. They range from doing some clerical duties to odd jobs but they will take some of the financial burden off of you since the money you make can be applied directly to your tuition.
Apply for grants and scholarships
Grants and scholarships are the ideal way to pay for tuition as they don’t have to be paid back.
A grant can be procured directly through the university that you plan to attend. The application process is generally easy and you should be automatically considered for one as soon as you are accepted in the admissions process.
With some work and dedication, you can usually find some scholarships to pay for most or all of your tuition. You don’t have to be a star athlete or have a perfect GPA from highschool to qualify for scholarships. There are some out there with requirements that are tailor suited to your situation. The trick is doing the research to find them.
Start at a community college
The first two years of college are usually spent taking required courses that are pretty much universal. Take those courses at a community college to save yourself some money. In many cases these community colleges have affordable tuition that can be paid by taking on a part time job while you study.