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Debt Free College

Debt Free College | by TaxACT

How would you like to graduate from college with no student loan debt?

As a mother of seven children, I’ve worked hard to keep our kids debt free, particularly when it comes to student loan debt, because we know that one day they will have to pay back those loans

Not every student will graduate with debt-free, but there are many who can.

In fact, the amount of student loan debt you have can actually determine the following aspects of your life after you graduate:

  • Employment – the type of job you have the freedom to accept because of your debt.
  • Transportation – the kind of car you can afford to drive after making student loan payments.
  • Housing – whether you have to live in an apartment with several roomies or whether you have enough funds after debt payments to live alone.

For example, our daughter Bethany just graduated with a BA in the area of electronic media. She searched for a job in Chicago all summer and took work as a nanny in order to make rent.

At the end of the summer, a dream job opened up in England where she would get to live overseas for a year and travel all over Europe at the company’s expense as part of her work.

She is loving life on a creative arts team and using her major in the area of social media while seeing castles, cathedrals, historic sites and experiencing other cultures.

Because the job doesn’t pay much beyond travel and living expenses, the only reason she could accept this incredible opportunity was because she has no student loan debt.

Finish college with minimal amount of student loan debt

I believe that every college graduate can finish school with a minimal amount of student loan debt (or no debt at all) by considering all the options available to minimize costs.

Here are some points to consider in order to save on college expenses:

Make the Right Choice

Change the conversation from “I’ll go to the best college that I can get into” to “I will go to the school where I can get the best education possible for the least amount of student loan debt.”

Our son, Daniel, chose the University of Texas (Arlington) over the scholarship he got to Syracuse and TCU because he would still have 60K to 80K in student loan debt after the scholarships ran out from those other schools.

He graduated with honors and a degree in journalism. He’s a working writer in Texas, living the debt free life and doesn’t regret his college choice.

Make Dual Enrollment a Priority

Many high schools offer high school students the opportunity to take college courses either on campus or in conjunction with the local community college.

The student gets credit for both high school requirements and double dips by earning college credit at the same time. In fact, there are thousands of students nationwide who get their high school diploma one week and their Associates Degree from the local community college the next week!

Our kids took orchestra, choir, ballroom dancing, yoga, World History, Physics, & Calculus while still in high school and with dual enrollment they got college credit for their efforts.

Make Scholarship Hunting a Part-Time Job

Millions of dollars of scholarship money go unclaimed every year.

This is free money that parents or prospective students who are willing to do some detective work may find more quickly than they think.

Go to collegeboard.com or salliemae.com to find scholarships that might be a fit for you. Don’t just apply for a dozen scholarships, take the time to cut and paste and apply for hundreds of them in order to see that money come into your college account.

Make Use of Advanced Placement Tests

Whether you are in high school and taking an AP test for college credit or whether you are already in college and want to take a language CLEP test to get ahead of some hours, you can study and have it pay off in a big way.

There may be other tests that your university offers to give you credit for the knowledge and skills you possess.

One of the Kay family members placed out of 16 units of Spanish, which was equal to $4000 saved in college tuition and books!

Make a Budget, and Stick to It

Go to elliekay.com for an interactive budget tool and learn how to live within your means in order to minimize debt.

Make yourself accountable to a friend or a parent who is good with money. They will ask you on a weekly basis how your budget is going.

This concept of accountability will make you more likely to stick to a spending plan and help you live within your means.

Make Yourself into a Fellow or an Assistant

Many colleges and universities offer programs that enable you to get a master’s degree while doing research or assisting professors in the department in which you wish to study.

This is a viable option that also enhances your hands-on experience within your chosen field.

Our son, Philip, got his Masters from Stanford, debt free, by becoming a research assistant (RA) and teaching assistant (TA).

He interviewed for the fall semester during spring break of his senior year in college. They were so impressed that he took his spring break off to try and get a job for his master’s degree that they hired him on the spot.

In his new role as a TA, he was able to help four other college mates get the same kind of opportunities when they arrived to get their masters degrees.

Make a Deal with Your Employer

Many employers are willing to foot the bill for a master’s degree, especially an MBA (Master of Business Administration).

Talk to someone in your company’s Human Resources department to get more information. Or another option is to talk to a military recruiter to join the guard or reserves.

The Army, Air Force and Navy will often pay up to $65,000 in student loan debts if you qualify for the program.

Currently, nearly 20 million Americans attend college each year with 60% of those students borrowing annually to help cover costs.

The average student loan balance is $24,301 and many borrowers owe substantially more than that amount (tweet and share this).

You can beat those statistics and graduate with nominal student loan debt by making smart college choices.

Which of these options can you work on today in order to minimize your college costs?

Image Source: leetlegreenman

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About Ellie Kay

Ellie Kay is a regular expert on national television with ABC NEWS NOW’s Money Matters and Good Money shows. She is also a national radio commentator, a frequent media guest on Fox News, and CNBC, a popular international speaker, and the best-selling author of fourteen books including her newest release, The Sixty Minute Money Workout (Waterbrook, 2010). For money savings links visit Ellie's blog.

1 comments
CollegeGuru
CollegeGuru

These are all wonderful tips to complete college without (or with least) burden of the debt. I would also like to add to the list. Although it's ideal to complete college without taking financial aid, at times it's really difficult to do that. So it's wise to choose the least financial aid possible, and the ones with the most benefit (based on repay period, interest rates. etc.). 

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