Lot’s of debt or no college? Make another choice.
A comment from a post called “Are you a Slave?” from my not defunct blog, inspired this next post. The comment was as follows:
A lot of Americans accumulate debt while pursuing higher education. It is unbelievably expensive! Any direction on that?
While many believe the only way to higher education is amassing an amazingly high debt, I would challenge you to consider an alternative path. There are ways to earn that degree while keeping your head above water. I can attest, as I was able to obtain two degrees with a student loan balance of $0.00.
Why a degree?
Before you take your first class or take out your first loan, make sure you know why you are pursuing a college degree. Are you obtaining a degree in order to put you in a position for a higher paying job? Do you want that pretty certificate so you are able to learn more about a passion of yours? Or are you racking up loans and college credit because this is just the next stage of your life? Know why before you make the plunge.
It can be argued and I would agree that not all pursuits in life are better because you have a degree. You will not be successful simply because you passed lots of tests and handed in lots of papers. There are many successful people who have never set foot in a college classroom.
Once you have decided that a college degree is for you, take a moment to think of how you might obtain this recognition. Will you go to a prestigious university? Will you go to a state school? A private school? A community college only or for the first two years? In state or out of state?
Some of the variables that go into this decision include the following
Does the school have a the program you are after?
Do the employers who hire this profession care which school you went to?
How much more expensive is a school that is out of state?
How much more expensive is a private school than a state school?
Are you planning on working while in school? Does your employer have tuition aid for the school you choose?
How to graduate debt free?
All of the questions above are necessary in order to put you in a reasonable frame of mind. If you have not considered the alternatives, you are destined to do it how it has always been done.
Let me show you how you can graduate debt free! These options take sacrifice. These options are not traditional. These options are not easy. These options may prompt your friends to make fun of you! Finally, these options will give you two results. First, you will have a college degree. Second, you will be debt free!
Three options you have to graduate debt free are:
The first option is the delay gratification option. This option requires you to save enough money for a class, for a semester or for a year. Once you have the money saved for all of your tuition, books and living expenses, you are ready to take the courses you need toward your degree. Once you are done with this group of classes, go back to work and save again. Rinse and repeat until you have enough credits for graduation. This method will delay the day you receive your degree, but it will give you a sense freedom in knowing you have no-one to pay back when you are done. This method can be combined with the work hard method to create a more consistent pursuit of your degree. Estimated time to completion: 8 years
The second option is the work hard option. This method requires a lot of sacrifice for a relatively short period of time. Find an employer that will cover all or a portion of your tuition for the degree you are seeking. Work full-time and go to school full-time while you pursue your degree. There is nothing that says this option will make you the most popular person in all the social circles, but it will give you a debt free degree in the shortest period of time. Estimated time to completion: 4 years
Finally, you can use the get lucky option. Unfortunately, this is really not an option. If you are lucky enough to have parents who have saved to pay for your education, you can concentrate on your education while remaining free of loans. Estimated time to completion: hopefully 4 years or less
Obtaining a college degree does not have to mean you end up paying back a pile of debt. Think outside the proverbial box. What other methods have you taken in your life to reduce, eliminate, or prevent your educational debt?