Large sums of debt have become all too common among college students. Many take out student loans amounting in the tens of thousands and then rack up credit card debt to cover basic expenses. It would seem that parents and students have forgotten how to save money. The fact is, that no matter what your current situation, there is no reason to accumulate such large amount of debt to get an education. By using some money saving tricks and hard work, you can get the college education you are looking for without taking on unnecessary debt.
Take Advantage of Community College
Instead of going straight to a four year college after high school, get through your basic classes at your local community college. These college provide the same classes at a much more reasonable price. Once your have your core classes taken care of, you can then transfer to a four year school. Why pay more for the exact same classes?
Choose a State School
Too many college students get caught up in what school they get into and the prestige that goes along with some schools. The problem is that the majority of employers do not care where you got your degree, just that you actually got one in the right field. So unless you are getting a full scholarship to a college out of state, stick with a good state school that will cost significantly less.
Live at Home
This option is not available for all students, but for those that do have this option, you need to take advantage of it. Living at home will cost significantly less than getting an apartment or even living in the dorms. Even if your parents ask you to pay a little rent, you will still be paying much less than other options. If you can’t stand the thought of four more years at home, try to do it at least your freshman and maybe your sophomore year. Use that time to save as much money as you can so you can move out later without going into debt.
Save Money on Textbooks
Many college students forget how much textbooks can cost, and when you are trying to stay out of debt you need to learn how to save money on them. Start by only purchasing used books from places like Amazon.com. This alone with save you at least 50% off the cost of your books. Then once the semester is over, sell back your books and put the money in a fund for the next semester. This will keep your out of pocket cost for textbooks at a minimum and save you from having to go into debt.
Fill Out the FASFA
It is almost unbelievable how many students do not even bother to fill out the FASFA. High school students see this a boring task that will not get them anything if they do not want student loans. What they forget is that there are scholarships and grant money that is given out based on this information as well. Even students whose parents are well off may be surprised to find a few small scholarships available to them as well. So do not assume that the FASFA is not worth your time, it could cost you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.
Don’t Go to School Full-Time
Despite what conventional students may do, you do not have to go to school full-time. If you do not have enough money to pay for a full 12-15 hours a semester, do around 6 hours and pay for the hours with the money you have. Then save throughout the semester to pay for the next. It might take more time to do this, but to not have student loans hanging over your head is worth this time.
When you are trying to avoid excessive debt while going to school, it is imperative that you work at least a part-time job. Try to schedule your classes in such a way that it will be easy for employers to work around your school schedule. Wait tables, deliver pizzas, work in retail or anything else you can find to cover your expenses and save toward your next semester of college. It isn’t easy but your hard work now will pay off.
Consider Joining the Reserves or National Guard
If you are interested in serving your country, there are two other options available to you to help you with school. The National Guard and the Reserves both have scholarships available to those who are willing to serve in that particular unit. Many of these scholarships will cover all tuition costs and even pay you a small monthly allowance. For more detailed information on this option, it is best to speak with a recruiter who can help you find your best option.
So do not think that attending college means you have to go into a large amount of debt. There are things you can do to minimize the cost of college so that it is more affordable. In the end, sacrifice, hard work and smart spending is the key to staying away from large student loans. So use these three things for your education and keep yourself out of debt.