Graduate College Debt-Free – It’s no secret that graduating from college debt-free is almost impossible. Tuition is on the rise in America and with a weakened economy, more and more students are depending on student loans to get an education. As reported by CNN Money:
“Students graduating from college last year walked away with more than a diploma, they also left with a record level of student loan debt. College seniors who took out loans to fund their college education owed an average of $25,250, 5% more than the class of 2009 owed, according to a report from the Institute for College Access & Success’ Project on Student Debt.”
Graduate College Debt-Free
Still, with careful planning it IS possible that you can graduate from college with a degree debt-free. Let’s take a look at some of the options that will help you save on tuition.
There are some amazing, affordable schools available to instate students. The State University of New York (SUNY) system, for example, offers instate students an annual tuition of $5,270 for any of its schools. If this is the kind of tuition you’re looking for, why not take a year off before college and establish residency in an affordable state? There is also an exchange system set up with some schools that offer instate tuition prices of out of state students, like the Midwest Student Exchange.
Community college can be a great way to knock off two years of classes at an affordable price before transferring to a four year school. Do well and you might qualify for a scholarship at a great university.
College Credit in High School
Why not use your free public education to get some college credit? An excellent high school student may qualify to take AP classes which gives them college credit– aka classes they won’t have to pay hundreds of dollars for the following year!
Cash In On Tax Credits
The federal government offers tuition tax credit programs which can reduce your family’s federal income tax bill. See if you qualify!
Get a National Organization to Foot the Bill
Your service to national organizations won’t go unnoticed– joining the Army or other government programs will pay for your tuition in full. This also includes Americorps, Teach for America, Peace Corps, National Health Service Corps. Explore your options, make a difference in the world and get your college paid for.
Cut costs at school by working whilst there. Work studies look great on a resume and put money back in your pocket.
There are dozens of scholarships and grants available to students of all sorts of backgrounds. Things you would never think mattered can be your ticket to money for your education. If you qualify as an independent and come from a household where the combined income is less than $50,000 you may qualify for a Pell Grant, which is a nice $5,500 towards your education that you don’t have to pay back.
I’d say a solid plan for a high school student who wants to graduate debt-free from college would be as follows:
- Work really hard at your classes. Get excellent grades. When it comes to being a senior take AP (college credit) classes. This way you won’t have to take/pay for them at college.
- Take a year off before applying to the (affordable) school you want to go to. Get a job– or two and save as much money as you can. Simultaneously take community college classes to earn more credits that you won’t have to pay for once you enroll full time at your school.
- Apply for scholarships and grants to help cut the costs.
- Enroll in a super-affordable school.
- Get a work-study job at your school. Also work a part-time job on the side.
I think if you were to follow this model you’d be pretty close to debt-free in college. It definitely wouldn’t be easy, nor would you be getting “the college experience” but you would be a lot better off than a whole lot of other kids!
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Graduate College Debt-Free