Did you know that in 2018 the accumulated amount of student loan debt inside the United States was over $1.5 trillion? That is a huge chunk of change! If you are wanting to earn a four year degree, but you want to keep your student loan debt to a minimum or non-existent, there are a few tips that you can follow to make sure you don’t become a statistic!
The very most important thing to do when you are thinking about starting to earn your four year degree, is start a savings account. Many credit unions and banks will start you off with a free savings account all you would have to do is research what kind of benefits you would want in your banking and go sign up. It’s relatively easy to do and it will help greatly in the long run. You may even be interested to look for banks who will pay you to open an account with them. Additionally, you can earn extra money just by having an account with a credit union by earning interest. A banker will be able to assist you with any questions you have along the way. By starting a savings fund it will give you a direct place to store college funds that will be out of the way of the temptation of spending.
Next you will want to get some type of income coming in to start putting funds into your account. If you don’t already have a job, now would be the time to get one. Have an idea of what percentage of your earnings you would like to dedicate to your college fund. If you already have a job you can always start thinking of side gigs that you could do. Babysitting on the weekends, walking your neighbors dogs and doing lawn care are easy tasks that you can easily pick up to make some extra money. By having consistent money coming in, you will be able to watch your college fund grow.
Sometimes there are places that will help you financially with the cost of tuition and the best part is you don’t have to pay them back. Fill out your application for FAFSA before the deadline the semester before you would like to start taking classes. FAFSA can definitely put a dent in your tuition rates and sometimes even pay for your tuition completely. On the other hand sometimes you need a bit more money for tuition than FAFSA was able to help with. That is where scholarships come in. Scholarships are a great way to earn lump sums for your college tuition. If you aren’t a great writer, there are many services out there that will help you apply for your scholarships. Don’t limit yourself when it comes to scholarship searching either. Are you wanting to be a veterinarian? How about a nurse or a teacher? Are you a single parent? Those are traditional things that you can earn scholarships for. There are also non-traditional things though! For instance, if you have an eye for fashion and some time on your hands, Duct Tape has a $10,000 ongoing scholarship to win if you can create a stunning prom dress…with Duct Tape of course! Scholarship opportunities are endless so apply to every single one that you can find and qualify for!
If you are still in high school a wonderful opportunity you may have is taking AP courses. AP courses will not only give you high school credit, but you will earn college credits also without having to pay a dime for it. Take all of the AP courses you can that way when you get out of high school you’ve already earned college credits and those credits earned will be ones you don’t have to pay for in the long run!
Consider your school of choice! If you have your heart set on going to a four year university, you may want to reconsider an alternative. At a community college you are able to earn a two year degree and the cost per credit hour is significantly lower than it would be while you are earning your two year degree at the university. After you earn your two year degree you can still attend the college you had in mind, all you would have to do is transfer credits which is an easy task to do with an admissions adviser. If you still want to attend a four year university and skip community college, try applying for an in-state school. You will be able to avoid out of state tuition rates like this, which can add quite a bit of money to your tuition costs.
Once your in school picking up a job is recommended. A lot of schools even have work study programs that will schedule your work around your class schedule. Also, working full time and going to school full time is not the same amount of hours, so even if you have to pick up a few morning shifts at the coffee house down the street, it would be a lot better than repaying student loans after you graduate.
No matter what demographic you come from or what struggles you have had in the past, you can accomplish your four year degree. By following these steps you should be able to graduate college without having to pay for years afterward in student loans.