When you graduate from college, the whole world lays out before you, full of hope and possibility. That is until you realize you are saddled with a whopper of a student debt load. That can make starting the next chapter of your life an uphill climb. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could graduate from college and be completely debt free? Yes, it is possible (even without having been born into a wealthy family who pays you way).
You may think it’s impossible to graduate from college without at least some measure of debt, but it’s not. Here are some ways to drastically reduce, or even remove, your debt load before you walk on stage and accept your degree.
Do some research and work hard
In high school, do some research to find out what scholarships might be available to you. These could be academic scholarships, community service awards, sports-related scholarships, etc. Once you have your eye on the prize, work toward it. And don’t forget about government loans. Those things can really help reduce your overall education costs and help you to be debt free at graduation. Once you know what’s out there and what the requirements are, you can set your sites on throwing your hat into the ring.
Take college courses in high school
In some jurisdictions, qualifying students can enroll in college courses, for free, while they are still in high school. This means you can effectively reduce the number of credits you need once you actually land on the college campus, thus reducing the overall number of credits you need to take – and pay for – to graduate.
Go to community college
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with going to a community college rather than one of those institutions with ivy-covered walls. Tuition is much less expensive, and you’ll still graduate with a college degree. Plus, if you go to a nearby college you may be able to (with a little grace from your parents) live at home, which reduces your expenses even further, as opposed to if you were paying to live in residence at a far-flung school. After those initial college years (usually two) you can transfer to the school you really want to go to, bringing your credits with you, if you want.
It’s great to have a summer job while you are in college, but if you really want to graduate without being saddled with debts, a better strategy is to work year-round. Many colleges offer job opportunities to students such as Resident Advisors. The big advantage to a position like this is that they will cover your room and board in exchange for your services, which essentially adds up to learning tax-free income. When you consider the hefty price tag most colleges charge for lodging, it’s easy to see why these positions are so sought after. Side note: Working your way through college is also a great way to bolster your resume upon graduation, so when it comes time to look for a job, you’ll have a competitive edge.
Apply for financial aid
Your college’s financial aid office should start to feel like a second home to you if you’re doing things right. Explore every possible option for securing funds to help you pay for school. You never know where you’ll find a program or organization that will help you to fund your education.
These are just a few ways you can start out your adult life being debt free. Look here for more articles on handling debts, making money, and more.
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