Heading to college, whether as a new or returning student, is an exciting venture. The problem? Student loans have the potential to follow you for decades after graduation. The good news is there are things you can do to get through school with little to no student loan debt after graduation. Keep reading…
Does the thought of graduating college with massive amounts of student loan debt completely nauseate you? You’re not alone. Careful financial planning, scholarship application, and employer reimbursement plans are just a few of the things you can do to minimize or eliminate debt. Here’s what you need to know.
You Don’t Need to Graduate College with a Lifetime of Debt; Here’s Why!
Fill Out the FAFSA
It seems silly, but this is important. Make sure the FAFSA is filled out, no matter what financial situation you think you’re in. Schools use this information when deciding who will receive grants, school and state aid, and even admission to work-study programs. Don’t leave the potential for any free money on the table.
Apply for Scholarships
Take applying for scholarships as seriously as you would any other major task in your life. Sites like Ccollegeboard.org and Niche.com are great resources for finding all sorts of awards. Think outside the box, too. Sports scholarships, for example, may extend to support staff as well as to players.
Consider Employer Reimbursement
Do you already have a job with a major corporation? Some offer tuition assistance programs and others will pay all of your tuition, leaving you to cover textbooks and fees. Some employers do require you stay with them for a certain number of years after each semester paid for, but others have no requirements. Starbucks, for example, will pay 50 percent of your freshman and sophomore tuition fees, then 100 percent for your junior and senior years. Chipotle, Chrysler, Walmart and a myriad of other companies offer subsidy programs.
Work While Studying
It’s not an ideal plan for everyone, but working while studying gives you the opportunity to pay cash for your degree. Those looking to graduate with no debt may need to continue working full-time while taking classes on a slower, part-time schedule. It’s up to you to determine what sort of work-life balance you can manage.
Utilize Your Community College
There is nothing wrong with taking your basic undergrad classes at the local community college. Why pay a premium rate for the same basic history and English requirements all schools have when you can take the classes for a lower cost and then transfer the credits later? Just make sure your university of choice will accept your community college’s transfer credits.
People fundraise for everything else these days. Why not college? Your family and friends may be ready and willing to help you fund your education, especially if you’ve had big goals all along. Sites like GoFundMe or IndieGoGo are great places to start.
Veterans and their dependents have options when it comes to receiving military funding. Active duty military members can take advantage of up to $4,500 per year in tuition assistance to pay for their degree. There is also the GI Bill, which can be passed down to dependents if the veteran does not use it. Did your parents serve? Make sure you ask them if they took advantage of the GI Bill.
There are a number of creative ways to earn the money needed to pay for college without student loans. The trick is to find methods that mesh well with your work schedule and your career goals, giving you the chance to work and have a social life while edging your way through your course load. It takes a bit of effort, but it can be done.