Posted: 11 May 2018
Since 2016, student loan debt in the United States exceeded $1.48 trillion. Interestingly enough, the rate of students attending college continues to rise. The number of students expected to enroll in an undergraduate program is expected to grow by 14 percent between 2015 and 2026.
If you are one of these students who wish to attend college but do not plan on becoming part of the statistics, here are some ways you can minimize student debt or even graduate college debt free.
10 Ways to Help You Graduate College Debt Free
Since taking out student loans has become such a normal idea for most people, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking student loans are a must in order to attend college.
But before taking out any loans, think about all the ways you can lower the cost of college first.
Here are some options to consider when you are going through this process:
1. School Choice
One of the most important factors that will decide how much you’ll have to pay for college is the college you choose. Out-of-state colleges, for example, costs $8,990 more than in-state colleges.
If you must attend a college outside of your home state, consider universities that have fixed rates for both residents and non-residences. There are quite a few of these throughout the country.
2. Community College
If you’re not sure what you want to study yet or simply can’t afford the tuition of a 4-year college, we would highly recommend community college for your first two years. Average annual tuition for community colleges is usually one half or one-third of public 4-year colleges.
Once you have a clearer idea of what you’d like to study, you can transfer some of those credits to your new school and save money on those classes. Community colleges also tend to offer more night classes which would allow you to work day jobs to save money for school.
3. Become A Residential Assistant (R.A)
One of the biggest concerns for many college students is housing costs. One way to completely solve this problem is by becoming a Residential Assistant. Aside from work experiences, this position comes with a lot of other benefits. Free housing, free utilities, free wifi, free toiletries, free meal plans, free parking, and more.
Yes, you will also have a lot of responsibilities but the pros here clearly outweigh the cons.
Another bonus of being an R.A is that you will also have a lot of downtime, which you can use to study or make money online.
Another popular way to earn money while you’re in school is through work-study. Work-study is a federal program that gives students jobs depending on their skills, financial needs, and the time that they apply.
The unique thing about work-study is that it can open up opportunities to students that are not normally open to non-students. You’ll also work with a supervisor who will understand your class schedule and financial situation.
Scholarships are an excellent way to land free money for your college tuition. If you plan on applying for scholarships, you must treat it like a part-time job. Scour the internet and apply to anything that you think you can qualify for and don’t just go for the big ones.
Smaller scholarships are sometimes less competitive because not as many people go after them but if you can get a few of them, it starts to add up. Also, if you are part of any honor societies, don’t forget to look up scholarships they offer such as this foundation.
6. Assistantships and Fellowships
Assistantships and fellowships are free money given by organizations to raise awareness on specific issues and to entice more talent to solve them. The organizations they come from are diverse.
Generally, assistantships and fellowships are only available to graduate students and the students must apply for them.
The main difference between a fellowship and an assistantship is that fellowships tend to be more flexible in terms of how a student can use the money but assistantships usually require the student to work either as a teaching assistant or a research assistant.
7. Loan Forgiveness Programs
Would you like to become a teacher? A social worker? Or work for a government organization or non-profit organization? If so, you might be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program once you start working.
The program states that if you stay in the public service sector for a certain amount of time (usually 10 years) or make a certain number of payments (usually 120), they will forgive the rest of your loans.
8. Serve in the Military
If you’ve been wondering what it’s like to serve in the military, you might’ve already heard about its educational benefits.
After your service term, the U.S government will offer you different educational benefits such as the GI Bill, Tuition Assistance, and more to help you pay for your college education. In addition, being a veteran also qualifies you for some unique scholarships.
9. Taking Online Classes
Many schools nowadays are starting to embrace technology to offer students cheaper courses online. There are a few schools in the country that offer degrees that you can earn completely online and some require a mix of online and on-campus classes.
Either way, you’ll be saving money so it is definitely a worthy option to look into. In addition to tuition, you’ll also be able to save on commuting costs.
If you are determined to go to college without debt no matter what and you have a knack for storytelling, consider building a crowdfunding campaign for yourself.
It might be daunting to ask friends, family, and strangers directly for money but if you are sincere, humble, and passionate about your education, people can be surprisingly generous. You never know who will come across your campaign.
There are many ways to graduate college debt free but you must be willing to do the research and take action.
If you look really hard, there is free money for you to go to college and many of them can be found online. We hope these 10 tips gave you some good ideas of where to start.
If you would like more money saving tips either on education or other aspects of your life, be sure to check out the latest posts on our blog!