Education is important and will help you stand on your feet better once you have graduated from college. It is, unfortunately, also very expensive. Most people cannot afford paying for their education from their savings and need to find alternative ways to finance their education. Student loans are a seemingly easy way to get the education one wants without having to work too hard during studies. They do, however, come with a high price and can influence your life in a multitude of ways after you graduate. Before you go ahead and apply for your student loans, consider other options to get your college education without resorting to student loans. We found seven most common ways to do so but there are other options available as well as a combination of the ones you can find below:
Apply for scholarships
Start looking for scholarships while you’re still in high school to see if you might qualify for one or more. There are unclaimed scholarships being wasted each year, so look well and then look some more. Not all scholarships are based on academic performance, there are other types of scholarships available – scholarships based on your major, your heritage, depending on where your parents work, etc. There are also scholarships designed for people entering specific years in college, so it is wise to start looking as soon as you have begun to school.
Pay as you go
Another alternative is to pay for college semester per semester. It means that you can work full-time during summers and save for school. Check with your parents if you could live with them so that you can minimize your running costs. If you make the most out of your summer job you might avoid having to work during school year. Choosing your summer job intelligently will also give you valuable experience that other college students will not have until they have graduated. Even if you must work part-time during classes to help you pay for your daily expenses, having your tuition paid with the money you saved during summer will mean you will graduate debt-free.
Another option is to attend junior college or community college for your generals. If you decide to do this, think about contacting the college where you are planning on going next and enquiring which generals will carry over so that you concentrate on those. Yet another option if you want to lower your costs is to live off campus or chose to cook your own meals instead of eating take-out. These seemingly small changes will add up to the cost savings you will be making. It is also important to consider the cost of tuition for different colleges. An in-state college tuition is often lower than the off-state one, and these two are lower than that of a private college.
Attend college part time
If the option above does not cover your tuition in full, consider going to work full-time and to college part-time. This will mean your education will take a bit longer, but you will not have to sacrifice that much when it comes to your lifestyle choices. This option is especially good for those who decided to attend college later in life and already have a full-time job. If you choose to follow this path for your education, making a solid plan on how quickly you want to graduate is key. Having this plan will help you move quicker and with a target in mind. You might need to attend college in summer to speed up your graduation, and this is often an option as there are many programs out there that are designed specifically for young professionals and those who want to get a college degree without getting into debt.
Work during your gap year
Taking a year off after high school and working full-time to save for college is another good option. If you have a chance to stay with your parents while working without having to pay rent or contribute for groceries, this could be a good solution to saving money for tuition. Depending on the job you can find, you might earn enough to cover for the first few years of tuition in your local college and then pay for the remaining years with your summer jobs. Yes, this will delay getting your education for at least a year but if this means you will not have to get into debt it is worth it.
Take more classes
You might also choose to take a heavier class load so that you can graduate quicker, meaning you will spend less on tuition. If you add a class or two, you might be able to graduate a semester earlier. Another option is to attend classes during summer and many colleges offer reduced tuition fee during the summer months. It might be hard to study full-time without getting a break, but you might only need to do the summer term just once or twice to reach your goal, so it is something worth considering. However, before you enroll into a summer semester, weigh your savings against the earnings you would be sacrificing if you had a summer job. But, if you have a good local job at the university, you would not be moving away for the summer anyway, meaning you could probably do both.
Get your tuition reimbursed by your employer
There are companies who are willing to pay for your education if you come work for them for a certain period after you graduate (if you don’t, you will pay back the difference). This often happens in two ways – either they pay for your tuition upfront or reimburse you for each completed semester. This is a very good option for certain professions, especially in the medical field. Such programs are often available for nurses due to shortage of workers. This is a great way to earn your degree all the while avoiding getting into debt. Additionally, the work experience will raise your chances of getting a good job after you graduate.
If you have decided to go to graduate school, there are ways to pay for it without getting into debt. First, many graduate programs work very hard to get funding for their full-time students. If you are lucky, you can get this funding through your school. This often means you will be working as a research associate or teaching assistant. It’s a small price to pay for getting the education you want. If you are in your Ph.D. program, you can also work for a community college which will help fund your degree. There might also be other opportunities, so do make sure to talk to your program coordinator to find out what opportunities are available for you and how to apply.
If you find that the options mentioned above are not a good solution for you or for the degree you chose but you can’t afford to pay for the education yourself, then getting a student loan might be an option. Before you apply for a loan, though, make sure you do proper research and get the loan that will not weigh you down too much upon graduation. Weigh all pros and cons. There are also things you can do to lower the amount of your loan or even have it partially or fully forgiven.