How To Be A Debt Free College Grad

by on January 9, 2013

First and foremost, make it your biggest priority to not borrow money to go to school.  Loans can- and do- add up very quickly, and you can be in over your head before you even knew you were swimming, especially if you don’t pay attention to what kind of loans you are accepting.  It is best to pay for as much of your schooling up front as you can, and then, before signing up for loans look into other things that will help you pay for school such as the following resources.

Scholarships

Find scholarships and grants that will pay for your education without asking anything in return other than your hard work and minimum GPA of 3.0.  These are great because they motivate you to do well in school, adding value to your education and you will also most likely appreciate school more, because it is being gifted to you.  You can find scholarships by contacting a counselor at your high school, an advisor at college or using resources such as www.finaid.org Scholarships and grants are a gift because you do not have to pay it back and therefore are not technically indebted to anyone.

Financial Aid

get out of college debtBefore you accept your spot at college, apply for financial aid and see what they will give you.  There are a lot of schools that have financial aid agreements and guarantees. Financial aid is also a great advantage if your family doesn’t make a lot of money, or they have multiple kids in school at once, because most financial aid is based on your need. (Which is calculated when you file the FAFSA) Like scholarships and grants, you do not have to pay financial aid back.  You may have some requirements, like a basic GPA to uphold, and you have to stay out of trouble and might have to have a job on campus, but when you graduate, you won’t have to pay a dime back.

The Armed Forces

Even with the obvious drawbacks, going into the Army is a great way to pay for school.  There are military programs that will pay for four years of college if you serve for four years.  This is a great opportunity for people who want to go to school but perhaps have some other interests that they want to explore first, such as travelling or working abroad or training in a field the military offers.  While it does set you back four years, it gives you very valuable life experience and serves the country.  By serving in the military, you don’t just learn about the field you are in, you will also learn about yourself and life – something school can’t teach.

Overall

If you at start by considering and acting on the steps mentioned above, you will greatly increase your chances of becoming a debt free college grad. If not, you will at least decrease the total amount you will owe upon graduation. After all, education is always worth the investment.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Cat February 8, 2013 at 2:02 pm

I got scholarships and financial aid and I still came out with 70k in debt! (72k to be exact..)

I am now just down to 50k after 4 years of being out of school. I guess I could be paying more aggressively, but the thought is that I will get better paying jobs eventually? Then I think… maybe I should be investing… etc.. But the rate of return I would get on an investment wouldn’t offset the interest I get charged on my loans! We shall see!
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Chad Agrawal February 13, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Hey Chris,

Great post! I’m surprised I’m the first one commenting on it. Loans, scholarships and Armed Forces are good ways to save on college tuition. I just wanted to add another way: going to community college, then transferring to university. This can save students has much as $100,000 over two years, leading to way less debt!

Great site!
Chad
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Steve March 20, 2013 at 5:22 am

Awesome work Chris… I wonder why you have not titled it as Killer ways to be debt free college grad… 😉 Literally, I agree with you on this when you say that students hardly get to know they have sunk in the sea of debt… And the cycle of paying back keeps going on.. Students must make a financial plan ahead of entering a college or university to keep away from debts. Thanks for posting such a great stuff. 🙂

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Barbara Titus May 27, 2013 at 8:30 am

Where most people make a mistake is by getting in way over head with student loans. Thankfully my daughter was able to find two grants on FindScholarshipMoney.com because otherwise it would have been a public university or a community college for the first two years. Best way to be smart and minimize your college loans.

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Lorenzo July 1, 2013 at 8:48 pm

Taking college courses in high school (college algebra, university studies) is one method to reduce the cost of college. You could even take Advanced Placements exams and if you score well, then you’ll be credited for certain courses in college.

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Joe February 4, 2014 at 6:31 pm

I know this post is over a year old but one that still rings true. I was just reading a post today about what you could tell yourself at 18 and this would be one topic I’d really hit my 18 year old self over the head with. Grants helped me get through college due to athletics, but other advice would be to be creative, learn how to perhaps build a business or invest, and figure out fun/creative/value added ways to help alleviate student debt b/c that is truly hurting many getting out of college today.

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Ashley June 16, 2015 at 1:41 am

Yes, the article speaks really true!! Education is always an investment for the future and before investing on your education select the right path which gives you return on investment. And do not invest high so that drags you towards loans. Earn the degrees from the schools that gives you scholarships for the education.
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