So it’s your senior year of high-school and it slaps you in the head that you’re going to want to go to college next fall, and you didn’t save any money to do so! Unfortunately your parents are just as broke as you, and they can’t bail you out either! You have no money, and want to get an education. At this point most people default to finance their education up to their eyeballs and only realize that they borrowed well into five figures of debt after they graduate. This is not a winning plan! Who wants to start out their life with tens of thousand dollars in student loan debt? Here’s how you can pay for college without borrowing money.
The first thing that you have to realize is that you cannot afford to go to a fancy private school. Having a Champaign taste on a beer budget just does not work when it comes to college. All you can afford is an in-state public school, and that’s fine. We all don’t get to go to the college of our dreams; it’s called being an adult. Deal with it. Private schools are just too expensive to pay for out of pocket unless you get some big fancy scholarship to go to them. By going to an in-state school at the very nice tax-payer subsidized rates, you can usually get tuition down to about $5000 a year or $10000 with room and board.
Most college people live in dorms, and you should be able to do that if you want to, because it’s a lot of fun and you’ll meet a lot of great people. We do have to come up with $10,000 a year. That’s no easy task. Depending on when you’ll be entering college, you still could have a chance to get some scholarships to help pay for school, and if you do, apply for every single one of them. This is the easiest money that you’ll ever earn.
If scholarships aren’t an option, and for a lot of people they just aren’t, there is really only one option left, work. Don’t lie to yourself and think that you are too busy to be in college. You have plenty of time, chances are you’re only actually in a classroom for 15 to 20 hours a week. There’s ample time to work during college, and there’s nothing wrong with doing so.
So we know that we need to work, but how much do we need to work? You’ll need to work full time during the summer for sure. Any decent college student should be able to find a full-time job somewhere over the summer making around $8.00-$10.00 an hour. After taxes, you’ll probably make around $5,000. That’s about half of your college paid for, and now you have to come up with another $5000 during the 9 months that school’s going on. This means that you’ll have to work around 15-20 hours a week during school and over breaks, which is very doable. It’s not always pretty, but you’ll still have time for classes and friends.
The sad thing is that 99% of people will not work their way through college, instead they take the “easy” way out and finance their education over the next 20 years. They end up paying for their education multiple times over after interest is factor in. Let’s put it this way, after graduation where would you rather be, debt free, or have a $25,000 student loan to go with your new job? It might not be fun, but it will pay off in the long run.