It’s no secret that education is expensive. A college degree is often considered as being a prerequisite for getting a respectable graduate position and having a successful career, but the costs of attaining this are high. In fact, the national student debt outstanding is at the highest it has ever been, and it is estimated that the average graduate leaves college with at least $30,000 worth of debt.
Student debt can feel like an inevitable part of studying, and the stress of keeping up with repayments can really affect a person’s mental health and wellbeing.
That said, there are ways to reduce and minimize the level of student debt you accrue, particularly if you are mindful of it from the very beginning of your college studies.
6 Ways to Get a College Degree Without Being Buried in Debt
Apply For Scholarships
There are dozens upon dozens of scholarship opportunities available for college students today. Some people don’t even bother applying for scholarships because they assume that they do not have high enough grades to be awarded one but here’s a little secret: scholarships can be awarded for a variety of different reasons, not just high GPAs. If you are not MENSA material and you don’t possess the highest grades in the class then you don’t have to feel disheartened that you will not be eligible for a scholarship. A little research will show you that you can be awarded scholarships for being good at sports, playing a prominent role in certain extra curricular clubs and activities, assisting in the community, and any number of other reasons.
Take care when completing the form for a scholarship application. Some of them require a lot more detail than simple “tick the box” exercises – after all, this is your argument for why you deserve to be given “free” money. If you can, ask a parent or an academic profession to assist you with the application. Some require well thought out essays to be written in conjunction with the application. Many scholarships also have deadlines so be mindful of the timeline when applying.
- Assess If You Are Eligible For Grants
If you are from a low income family or you meet specific criteria then you may be eligible to receive a FAFSA grant. (A Free Application For Federal Student Aid). The application requires that you fill in a form that will assess your financial situation and needs and if considered eligible, will grant you a certain amount. The difference between a grant and a loan is that the grant is awarded to help you and does not need to be repaid.
- Cut Out Unnecessary Expenses
Are there certain expenses and outgoings that you have each month which you have the potential to reduce or cut out completely? Perhaps if you go through your finances with a fine tooth comb, you will find certain things that you are able to eliminate. For example, subscriptions to services like Netflix, Spotify Premium and other entertainment applications can add up in value. Equally if you run a car, you will be paying out far more money each month than you would if you walked or utilized public transportation.
- Take On a Part Time Job
Many college students scowl at the thought of taking on employment while they are studying full time, but unfortunately sometimes it is necessary. If your study schedule does not allow full time employment then there are plenty of jobs that you could take on on a part time basis. Jobs in the services industry, such as working in a bar or at a restaurant are popular choices for students since they generally allow flexibility of schedule. If you are open minded there are many other jobs that you could do temporarily to make a little extra cash – such as tutoring or working as an Uber driver.
- Consider Your Living Arrangements
Everybody would love to have a house or an apartment that is located right on campus and which allows them to roll out of bed at 8.59am and arrive in class just in time for the 9am lecture. Sadly these accommodations tend to be the most expensive – since they are the ones that are most in demand. If you are willing to live slightly further away from campus then it can make a drastic difference to your rent. Equally, by opting to share with more people rather than just having one roommate or living alone, you can further reduce your expenses.
- Consider Your Lending Options
Unfortunately even with the best intentions in the world, it’s not always possible to breeze through a college education without borrowing any money whatsoever. Having some element of debt post college is to be expected but if you are smart about it, you can minimize the amount you owe after graduation, as well as the interest rates and repayment amounts.
Private loans for school are still among the best and most popular ways to pay for an academic education. If you are unhappy with the option that you have taken after graduation, you can always look at ways to refinance your student loan and consolidate your debts later.