College is a good thing. College debt is a serious nuisance and a bad thing. This article flies in the face of most of what has been drilled into our heads. We have been conditioned to think that student loans are inevitable and a necessary evil. Well student loans don't have to be inevitable and are an unnecessary evil. You don’t need them, and this brief article will explain to you some ways that you can manage to pay for college without them.
If you tell me you can’t pay cash for college, I’m going to point you to my daughter, who worked 3 jobs in college, received scholarships, and finished in 4 years from a nearby state school. Is it hard? yes. Is it tough and frustrating? It can be. But is it possible? ABSOLUTELY! With some creativity, some planning, some ingenuity, and a bunch of the right attitude, you can do it.
Here are 6 tips that can make it happen:
1. Community college - This is by far the cheapest and most affordable 60 credit hours you could ever get. During these first 2 years, save money and make fantastic grades, so that you can accomplish number 5 on this list! Be wise here. I went to a community college and it was one of the best financial moves I ever made.
2. Work a job - you can work on or off campus. At most 4-year schools, you can live in a dorm while working as a Resident Assistant and get a BIG discount on housing. Or simply work somewhere on campus that offers you a discount on tuition. You can do it. No excuses here. Many people have worked their tail off to go to school. The principle of hard work is still important. Use this ability to help you pay for school.
3. Go slow -Take an affordable 6 to 9 credit hours a semester. Take an additional class each summer. If you finish college in 6 years, you will be fine, life will go on, and most of all, you will be without debt. I received my Bachelor’s degree at age 24. If you don’t get your degree until you are 26, so be it. It’s still better than being in student loan debt.
4. Attend a state school - Most state schools are more affordable than pricey online schools or private institutions. Your choice of school is a HUGE factor in costs. Go where you can afford to go! I don’t really care if you got accepted to Princeton, Stanford, USC, Cornell, or MIT. It doesn’t matter. The question is this: do you “accept” you? Just because a college “accepts” you, and acts like they are giving you some sort of privilege to attend their massively overpriced institution, doesn’t mean you have to go. Find a way to go cash, or don’t go.
5. Apply for scholarships, grants, work assistance programs, or student forgiveness programs. There is free money out there. Get good grades your first two years at that community college, and take advantage of the free money out here! Start applying for these scholarships and programs and grant money, early!
6. Know what you want to major in before you go, and stick to it. Every time you change your major, you cost yourself money! When you pay cash, this matters and has an immediate consequence on your money. When you pay cash for college you don’t have the time, or the money, to be fooling around with indecisiveness, paying for the “college experience”, or being wishy-washy. No time for games. Go in focused and come out debt free!
Make a plan, go to the cheap inexpensive local 2-year college, make excellent grades, attend a school you can afford, go slow if you have to, apply for scholarships like it’s a part-time job, and be laser-like in your approach.
You can do it!