The average graduate leaves college with more than $33,000 in student debt – and they can’t expect to walk straight out of college into highly paid jobs. Even if parents can afford to cover tuition, many experts recommend that they don’t do so. Students are far less likely to drop out or underperform if they have a personal investment in their studies.
But the massive debts that many young adults face as they begin their careers make for a discouraging start, and could land them with the handicap of bad credit ratings if they default on payments. Avoiding student debt, or keeping it to a bare minimum is, however, possible. Just take a look at the steps you should follow to achieve this.
1. Start in High School
High school students can already start working towards reducing or eliminating student debt. Here’s how:
- Achieve excellent grades to get bursaries, sponsorships or internships.
- Excel at sports and do well academically so you can shoot for sporting scholarships.
- Get college credits with Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or Dual Enrollment Courses.
- Save up summer job earnings towards college tuition. Parents can motivate kids by allowing to contribute an equal amount of money.
- Start searching college funding options before graduating from high school.
Naturally, very young people who have no idea of what career they want to pursue may struggle with motivation. Vocational guidance from experts can help them to find the direction they need.
2. Get “Free” money
Yes, it really is possible to get funding that you don’t have to repay. There are a few thing to bear in mind, though – for example, you may have to repay funding if you fail at college. Investigate the following avenues:
- Investigate grants for financially needy students. For example, you can apply for an FAFSA grant.
- Look into subsidies for certain career paths (e.g. teaching or engineering).
- Check out scholarships for college students even if you are not a great sportsperson or academic student.
- If a family member is in military service or is a veteran, there are education assistance programs available.
- If a prospective student does military service, educational funding can be obtained through tuition assistance programs.
- Education benefits are available to members of the military or their dependents through the GI Bill.
- Get into crowdfunding and market your cause through social media to get support.
- Find out about employers who will sponsor or reimburse study costs.
3. Work part-time or full-time
It can be very exhausting to work full time and study part-time, so if at all possible, part-time employment is a better option. Many students raise money towards their education by using strategies such as these:
- Working as a waiter or fast food employee.
- Becoming an Uber or Lyft driver.
- Babysitting and house sitting.
- Landing part-time cashier or sales assistant jobs.
- Tutoring high school students in sports or academic subjects in which the student excelled.
- Working part-time online as a freelancer (ideal for those with writing, graphic design or website design skills).
- Landing on-campus jobs with study benefits.
- Selling study notes and class notes (top students only).
- Selling crafts or foods at local events.
- Getting work and study internships (great if you can, you get valuable work experience too).
4. Cut your tuition costs
The less you pay for your education; the lower any student loan will be. You might even be able to avoid the need for one altogether. Consider these options:
- Shop around to see which colleges have the most reasonable fees / fee free for your preferred major.
- Ask student advisors about transferrable credits from community colleges. Take as many courses through community college as possible to save big time.
- Attend a good college rather than a “famous” one.
5. Cut your living expenses
The less a student has to pay for food, transport, and housing, the more he or she has to put towards tuition costs.
- Live at home with parents while studying locally.
- Walk, take public transport or ride a bicycle.
- If you have to board, consider dorm accommodation or share apartment costs with roomies.
- Limit eating out to special occasions.
- Use coupons.
6. Cut textbook costs
Textbooks can be shockingly expensive. Reduce your spending by:
- Using older editions (check with your teachers).
- Renting books.
- Buying second-hand books.
- Using library books.
For more details read: How to Save Money on College Textbooks
If you can reduce or eliminate your need for a student loan, you will be off to a much better financial start than those who had to borrow. Even if you can’t absolutely eliminate the need for a loan, you can try to keep it as small as possible for easier repayment.
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