Paying for college is tough enough with financial aid…but what happens when you don’t get any or you don’t want to borrow money? If you’re trying to figure out how to pay for college without accumulating student loan debt, these five tips can help.
If you were counting on federal student loans to help cover the costs of college but weren’t offered any, don’t panic – there are other options! Most schools offer tuition payment plans to lessen the burden of tuition and other expenses. Instead of taking out a student loan, check with your college’s financial aid office to see what payment plans are offered. Many have low-interest installment plans that split tuition and other college costs into affordable monthly payments.
If you have a part or full-time job, another thing to look into is employer tuition assistance. Some companies partner with schools to help their employees earn degrees there, while others will reimburse you for tuition and other costs if you’re studying something related to your job. Ask your boss or check with human resources to see if this is something that’s offered at your company.
One of the best ways to pay for college out of pocket is simple: pay as you go. Pick up a part-time job and put the money you earn toward tuition and other expenses. It may be slow-going, and it will be a lot of work, but not having any debt at the end of your college career will be worth it.
We all want to go to fancy dream schools, but the price tag isn’t realistic for everyone. If you’re looking at a school that you can’t reasonably afford without financial aid, it may be time to consider an alternative. Going to community college for the first two years is a great way to save money, because the costs of those credits can be thousands of dollars cheaper when compared to some four-year institutions. Knock out your required general education classes, earn an associate degree, and then transfer to a four-year school to finish your bachelor’s degree. By attending community college for the first two years, you can drastically cut the cost of earning your four-year degree.
If you’re considering taking some time off between high school and college (or even between semesters), get a job to save the money you need for college. Whether you get a part-time summer job or pick up a few gigs on the side, put as much as you can into savings, and use it to pay tuition and other costs in bulk. It can be difficult to pay for college out of pocket, but it’s not impossible!
Figuring out how to pay for college without financial aid may require a little more creative thinking, and may seem unconventional to some of your peers. And with some of these options, it may even increase the time it takes for you to complete your degree. But if your goal is to earn your college degree debt free, it’s a very real possibility.
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