Going into debt in order to fund a college education seems to be an unavoidable situation. Although getting a degree is very important today for a number of reasons, including the low unemployment rates for people with bachelor’s degrees, the expenses can be covered before and during the college career. It is very possible to come away from college with a degree without being in debt. The amount of work and persistence it takes will take its toll on a person physically and mentally, but it will be worth it in the end. Use these five tips to graduate from college without debt.
1. Apply for as many scholarships as possible. This one can’t be stressed enough. Scholarships are free money that doesn’t have to be paid back. They can cover anywhere from $100 to $50,000 of the total expenses for college. Most scholarships aren’t worth very much money on their own, which is why a future student has to seek out as many scholarships as possible.
2. Consider joining the military before going to college. With the Post 9/11 Montgomery GI Bill, military veterans who serve a full four year contract and leave with an honorable discharge will have their college paid for in its entirety. Not only will they go to college for free, but they will also set their resume up to stand out from the rest. Military service is probably the best resume-builder ever.
3. Save up money from work. If students know they want to go to college early in their high school careers, then they should start saving money right away. Although high school kids don’t make a lot of money when they work, every little bit helps. Even if the child could only save a few thousand dollars over a few years, that would help them tremendously. Books, food, and other additional expenses require extra money on top of the tuition.
4. If the parents know the child should go to college someday, they should set up a savings fund when the child is very young. The interest that any money can accrue over that time can be enormous. With just 50 dollars a month put into a savings account, the money will add up to a large sum by the time the child is old enough to go to college. Parents could easily save up to 10,000 dollars for their child’s future education.
5. Many colleges offer what is called a Work Study program. Students can work while they take classes, and instead of getting the money in wages, their earnings are deducted from their tuition. It may not seem like much, but any help in reducing the amount of money owed on the tuition bill or any loans taken out is definitely a good thing.
Going to college will no doubt be an expensive endeavor, but it’s not a challenge that can’t be overcome. Graduating free of debt is a realistic possibility that many people have taken advantage of over the years.
Jerry Wilson is a civil servant earning a master of urban planning online during his spare time.