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.
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.
Before 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.
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.