A college education is more important for most individuals now more than ever. There are other routes to take for some, but for the majority who wish to earn a good income, a college degree is a necessity. Many employers won’t even give you an interview unless you have your degree. So, a higher education is valuable, but who wants to be in debt for years in the process of getting that education.
There are several paths to take to avoid taking on the dreadful, often-thought necessary debt. Some will require a little more effort than others, but if you really want to come out of college free of school debt, then you really should consider these:
11 Tips To Pay For College Without Loans
1. Start working part time in high school
High School is the perfect time to start planning and saving for college. Even working a minimum wage job part time will allow you to set aside money to apply towards college. Increasing your work load during the summer will help you save even more. Over a two or three year period, you can amass several thousand dollars to help with college expenses.
So many students aren’t aware of the availability of scholarships or don’t take the time to research and apply for them. If you are in high school, you should definitely talk with your school advisor. They can help you find out what scholarships are available and even give you assistance in applying for them. If you are already out of high school, contact the college you are interested in attending to see what scholarships are available. There are also sites like scholarship.com or collegescholarships.com that you can search to look for scholarships you qualify for.
3. Work full time in summer
Summer is definitely a great time to take a break from school, but it can also be an excellent time to save for the coming year. Getting a summer job and working as many hours as you are able will greatly help with expenses when school starts up. It helps to have a job lined up before summer begins to avoid job hunting when everyone else is or wasting earning time looking for a job.
4. Create a college budget
Creating and sticking to a budget is something everyone should do. It is just as important while you are in college and is a good habit to get into. Sitting down and listing all your income and expenses for the year will give you a good idea of what your financial needs will be. It is important to stick to your budget as closely as possible.
5. Live off campus
Living on campus can be a significant expense. Estimates are up to $10,000 a year depending on the school you attend. If you can attend school while still living at home, you can avoid that large expense. That is not possible for a lot of students as they attend a college farther away, but living off campus in an apartment with a roommate (or several) can save you a bundle. Some people also rent out rooms in their homes. Also, a lot of colleges now offer online classes; in fact at some schools, you can take all of your classes online.
6. Tuition reimbursement through employer
Employers are always looking to hire and retain good employees. One way many employers choose to do this is by offering tuition assistance as part of their benefit package. Sometimes the tuition assistance only applies if the degree choice is one that fits with the business. It is a win-win situation for both the employer and employee. So, if you are currently employed, check with your employer to see if this applies to you. If you are seeking a job, then it pays to ask a potential employer if they offer any assistance. It may make a difference in what job you choose to take.
7. Part time college/Full time work
Sometimes it is the right decision to work full time and attend school part time. It will lengthen the time it takes to complete your degree, but it can be a very good choice rather than amassing huge school debt. It should definitely be something that you consider before taking on more debt.
8. Community College
It is often recommended that you attend a community college for the first couple years. You usually have no problem transferring credits to a larger university, and your degree would be from the four-year college you transferred to. The average cost is around $3000 for a year at a community college versus around $9,000 to $10,000 for in-state tuition at a four year state school. A private school can be $30,000 or more per year.
9. Tax reduction
The government offers higher education tax breaks for many college students. The American Opportunity credit covers up to $2500 of undergraduate costs. The Lifetime Learning Credit covers up to $2000 of undergraduate or graduate school costs. Check with your financial advisor, professional tax preparation expert or contact the IRS to see if you qualify. The credit can be even higher if there are several qualifying students within the same household. Definitely worth checking into.
10. Merit-based aid
Most colleges offer merit-based tuition aid for students with good academic records. This is based on academic success and not financial need, so even those who don’t qualify for assistance based on personal or family income can receive a part of even full reduction of their tuition expense. If you don’t qualify at first, it still pays to check again as your school record improves.
11. Military aid
For many, joining the military is an excellent way to get partial or full assistance in paying for college. Each service branch has unique assistance programs to help with tuition, so if you are interested in going this route, check with the branch you are interested in to see what they offer. The GI bill can help pay for a lot or all of your tuition depending on when you enlisted and length of service. There is even the possibility of getting a living stipend while you attend college. This is a great option for many.
Applying as many of these tips as possible (or as needed) really can allow you to make it out of college without the school debt that unfortunately follows many. It is even possible to be debt free and have a savings account when you are done if you plan smart and work hard.
Are you a college student? Have any of these tips benefited you? Do you have any tips to add to this list?