Today we welcome back our Tuesday contributor, Catherine Alford!
It’s no secret that college tuition is climbing every year, and I don’t even want to think about how much it’s going to cost when my not-here-yet kids get to go.
One thing I really want for them is to graduate without debt. Student loan debt has been so pervasive in my life, and I want them to be much smarter about handling it than I was. So, below are a few things I’d advise to anyone who is about to start college so that they graduate debt free:
#1 Try a Community College At First To Avoid Student Loans
Where I went to college in Virginia, they had an amazing program with community colleges where people could attend a community college for two years and then matriculate to William and Mary or the University of Virginia. It was perfect for those people who started at community college because they saved a significant amount of money and still got to graduate from a top 30 school. I’m sure that Virginia isn’t the only state to do that, so definitely do your research and see what your state offers. I wish I would have!
You can also start attending a community college while you are in high school in the summertime. You can complete a few of your core classes for much cheaper than a university and have a whole semester out of the way by the time you start college.
#2 Carry a Part Time Job To Graduate Debt Free
If your school has affordable tuition, you can save up money from your part time job starting in high school. If you can use that combined with a little help from your parents or grandparents, you can definitely graduate debt free. This would only work if you went to an affordable state school, as most high school students don’t make enough to cover $40,000 private university tuition. However, I think this would actually make a degree more valuable, knowing that you contributed to it.
There are also many work-study programs offered at universities and a lot of on campus jobs in various departments where you can work but also have time to do your homework too!
#3 Live Modestly To Avoid College Debt
This tip is true for everyone, not just those who are about to start college. However, it’s the perfect time to start this habit, which will benefit you for the rest of your life.
Many students do have parents who contribute to their education costs, but they still take out loans for their living expenses. Many students, myself included, take out way more than they need and use it frivolously. I know that I used mine to fund a trip, and others use it on shopping and partying.
However, had I been more careful, I wouldn’t have as much debt as I do today, and I’d do just about anything to not have the $35,000 in student loans that I am currently paying back.
What are some other ways that students can graduate from college debt free?