College education is expensive. Eye-wateringly expensive. Although getting a degree and having the privilege of tossing your hat in the air in a fancy cap and gown come with such a high price tag, it is considered as necessary if you are to secure a job in today’s competitive economy. It is predicted that in USA alone – the average college graduate has at least $30,000 of debt under their belt post graduation. That is not an insignificant amount. However there are numerous ways and means by which you can reduce the amount of debt you take on during your studies and have with you post graduation so that you are not still worrying about student loan repayments when you are considering retirement!
Ways to Get a College Degree Without Being Buried in Debt
Try to Reduce Your Academic Expenses
When it comes to a college education, not only are the costs of studying expensive by themselves, so too are the costs of all of the resources and materials that are necessary for studying. Academic textbooks alone can cost as much as 40 – 50 dollars a pop and when you require several per module, the amount adds up rapidly.
Instead of shelling out a fortune on books, look for alternative options. Maybe you can buy an older version of the textbook second hand or online, perhaps you can borrow the book from your academic library or maybe even you and a few of your course-mates can pitch in together and share the books, rather than each of you buying individual copies of the same.
Set a Budget For Living Expenses
Setting and adhering to a budget isn’t really synonymous with the young and carefree image that we have for student life however it truly is the best way to have a handle on your finances.
Try to set a budget that accommodates for everything – from entertainment costs (going for drinks, going to the movies, etc), transportation costs, grocery costs and general living expenses (rent, bills, etc). This way you will have a better understanding of your financial situation and will be less likely to spend a small fortune at the bar on a Friday night, followed by the painful checking of your online banking on Saturday morning and the realization that you will have to eat cheap cups of noodles all week.
Assess Your Accommodation Options
Being a student requires some element of compromise on the luxury of your living anyway. After all, you will seldom find an Art student living in a penthouse apartment with a view of Central Park (unless they are very lucky!) However more amendments to living conditions can be made in order to save money on rent and other expenses.
For example, everyone wants to live right by campus so that they have a minimum commute to their lectures each morning, but the demand for these places means that the rent is higher and as such, it may be cheaper for you to live a little further away from campus.
Similarly, you can save money by sharing with more roommates rather than just one or by living by yourself.
Look For Employers That Help With Student Debt
Did you know that an estimated 60% of American employers participate in “Employer Tuition Reimbursement”? In other words, they repay your student loans for you as a part of the package that they offer your employees. With such a significant chunk of businesses offering this, it should not be difficult to find an employer that is able to assist you and as such, you should take this into consideration when looking for your first step onto the career ladder.
Apply For Scholarships
Scholarships exist for a reason and that is to help students such as yourself with the expensive cost of gaining a college education. You don’t have to be the next Albert Einstein with a sky-high GPA to receive a scholarship. In fact, scholarships can be granted for a number of achievements and actions – from being a talented sports player to participating in schemes and projects that help the community.
Take care when competing applications for college scholarships as gaining one can be competitive. Oftentimes essays are required to prove why you are the best candidate to receive this financing.
Apply For Grants
Grants are one-off payments to assist with studies that do not have to be repaid. Not everyone is eligible to receive an academic grant, however if you meet certain criteria or you come from a family with a low income background then you could be considered. Take a look at FAFSA (The Free Application For Federal Student Aid) to see if you meet the requirements.
Be Smart About Your Student Loans
Sadly it isn’t always possible to pass through college with no student debt whatsoever. You can be conscientious and minimize debt as much as possible using the aforementioned considerations but the truth is that college is expensive and it will be hard for a student to scrape together the full amount of the fees.
If you need to take out student loans, only take out what you need and remember that everything you borrow will be repaid with interest. Upon graduation you can consider refinancing your student loans. It’s not difficult to learn how to build credit with loans, in fact.