It’s generally considered good advice to get a college degree no matter the cost, but as the cost of college rises, so does the amount of student debt most graduates acquire. While it may seem like a good investment , student debt can be debilitating, but for those pursuing a college education there is hope. With creativity and hard work, it is possible to achieve a degree without acquiring debt.
The earlier you commit to staying out of student debt, the more options are available. High school is the ideal time to start planning. I attended high school only one semester before deciding to withdraw. Instead I began taking classes from our local community college. Because I was a high – school – aged student , our community college provided classes for free. By checking with your high school and local college counselors, it is possible to create a plan to take advantage of available college courses, and possibly apply the credits for high school graduation as well.
Once you begin paying for college classes it is imperative that you have a plan s o your pre cious time and money is not spent on unnecessary courses. I graduated with my Associates Degree at the same time my peers were graduating from high school. I had already decided which un iversity to attend and which classes would transfer , so I began completing the major requirements immediately . If I had not decided on a major and researched the requirements I would not have been able to apply so many of the classes (which I completed at no cost ) .
V aluable resource s for funding college are sch olarships, grants, and work-study. To be eligible for financial aid from most universities you will need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The earlier this is filled out the more financial aid opportunities are available. State and school deadlines may be substantially earlier then the federal due dates. If you filled out the FAFSA, chances are you will be offered student loans, but you do not have to accept them to receive the other a id s .
Private scholarships can also be a help to funding a college education. High schools, service clubs, religious organizations, and state programs are all good resources. Apply for as many scholarships as possib le ; Fastweb is one resource for finding private scholarships for which you may qualify.
After outside funding has been exhausted, college can be funded by employment or investments. Some communities have classes or forums on how to fund college with real estate and other investments. Check with local colleges and community centers for community education courses in such topics. I worked both custodial and fast food jobs to pay for college. It is important not to take on too much at once. If necessary, it is best to work one job and take one class at a time. If you take on more classes and jobs than you can handle , you will only throw your money away on failed classes. If you pay for classes and do not pass , you may n ot be able to sign up for the next semester’s courses. I could have finished my last few classes in just one semester, but instead paid cash for one course at a time while working in a fu ll – time position.
It can be tempting to waste money on frivolous activities and things. Learn about frugal livin g and fi nd ways to cut costs. Every penny you save is that much less you have to work to get. By living as simply as possible, you free up more time and money for working toward your goals. New shoes will wear out and you can always rent that new movie later , but a college degree will be with you for the rest of your life.
College can be a worthy goal. Before embarking on a college educatio n you must ha ve a plan. Research the college’s requirements and plan ahead. Decide on a major before you begin. Get your paperwork in on time to maximize your opportunities. Don’t waste your time or your money on something you don’t feel driven to do. Going to college for the wrong reasons can be a bad idea and cause a lot of financial regret down the line. By refusing to accept deb t , w orking hard , and being creative and frugal, college can be a great investment.