College graduates today face massive debt as they enter the working world. This is no way to begin a career or the rest of your life. Most college students and their families are searching for ways to avoid debt. Yet, too often they wait until the debt is upon them before seeking answers. Planning how to pay for college is now even more important than deciding on a major. There are a number of easy solutions to obtain funding for a college degree. However, they require the student to view college in a whole different light such as forgetting the notion that there is a “college experience”. This article will explore the many ways a student can graduate college and begin their career without the shackles of debt.
Planning for college
First, understand that college classes will not take up 8 hours of your day 5 days a week. Whether you attend school online or on a campus you can expect to spend just 4 hours or less in a classroom, virtual or real, on just 3 days per week or less. This means that, yes; you will have plenty of time to work while attending school. So, begin your college preparation by applying for jobs where you know the employer offers tuition assistance.
Employers pay for college
Talent Culture reports in a 2017 World At Work survey that 92 percent of employers offer some form of tuition reimbursement or assistance to both part time and full time employees (Talent Culture, 2018). So, please dispel the notion that you are going to college to have the “college experience” of living in a dorm and lying in the grass on campus reading books. Those days are gone. The easiest way to avoid going into debt for college is to get a part time job and live at home for at least the first two years of school, maybe for all four years.
Four Ways to Get Money for College:
Employer tuition assistance or reimbursement is the most popular way to avoid college debt because it allows the employer trust that you will stick with the job. And, it could turn into a full time position after college if you enjoy the work. This employer now has a stake in you because he helped to pay for your education. He is more likely to keep you working there than an employer who has spent nothing on you.
Military funding is another avenue providing free money for college if you have been or are currently in the military. The GI Bill allows for up to 36 months of education funding and can be passed along to dependents as well. There is also military reimbursement for those who serve at least 90 consecutive days in the military.
Work study jobs on campus are an excellent way to make money, have access to computers and do it all at the same place. But be aware that there are only a few of these jobs each semester and they go to the students with the highest grades.
Internships are another great way to get free money and maybe obtain a full time position after graduation. Employers are more likely to hire students who interned for them because they know your work ethic and have had a good experience with you as an employee. This is the best of both worlds as you graduate debt free and step right into a full time position to begin your career.
Decrease expenses while in college
Living at home is your best option.Even if you must pay a small rent it is still the cheapest way to attend school and remain debt free.
If you must live on campus choose a residence that is located further from school and/or have several roommates. Keep expenses to a minimum by reducing utility usage.
Consider enrolling in online courses because this saves gas, parking and car insurance. It also gives you more flexibility with work hours and allows for more study time. But, remember to sign up early as online courses fill up quickly for just those reasons.
Compare tuition prices on schools in-state and in your area. While it may be nice to get away from it all while you attend college, remember that living in a dorm is very expensive. Also, dorm costs do not include food which is always an added price. And, going to school in another state means you will pay twice the tuition that an in-state student pays. So, stay in your own state and Google the tuition costs of schools in your area to find the most competitive tuition.
Buy used textbooks or older editions and resell your books when the course ends. Students can save hundreds of dollars each semester by purchasing used books online, or buying from a student who just finished the class (although he may want full price since that is what he paid). The easiest way to do this is to talk to an advisor and find out which class you will be taking next semester, and look up the syllabus to see the required books for each course. Buy the books used several weeks before the class starts to avoid the last minute rush.