Some people wish they could obtain a debt-free college degree. However, it just doesn’t seem obtainable. Tuition fees have been increasing over the years and across the country. More college students are taking out loans to pay for their education. Due to the increasing number of borrowers, student loans have become one of the largest sources of consumer debt in the U.S.
About 70% of bachelor’s degree students graduate with student loans. This is a significant increase from the figures recorded 20 years ago. But despite higher enrollment rates in the country, federal aid hasn’t kept up.
Student loans have both short- and long-term consequences. Here are some strategies to work towards a debt-free college degree.
How to Work Toward a Debt-Free College Degree
Many people would like to get an affordable education and increase the chances in their chosen careers. However, it just isn’t that simple being that tuition for college continues to increase each year. Take a look below at some strategies you could implement to work toward a debt-free college degree.
1) Choose an affordable educational institution
The first step to lowering the cost of a college education is finding a school that charges affordable fees. That way, students can study WITHOUT applying for student loans. Going to such colleges might mean talking with your child and adjusting expectations about their dream school.
The traditional approach where students move away from their homes to live on campus isn’t the only way to get an education nowadays. Usually, it’s not the cheapest approach, which is why many students opt to:
- take online classes, or
- live at home and commute
Applying strategically is another way of getting an affordable college education. During the application process, consider the returns on your investment you’re likely to receive.
2) Go for scholarships
Scholarships are one of the best ways to fund a college education since you won’t have to pay them back after completing your studies. Students can benefit from college-sponsored scholarships or explore available third-party scholarships with a scholarship finder.
Not all scholarships are meant for academic achievements. Organizations have different qualification requirements when awarding scholarships.
For example, students may be eligible for a scholarship based on:
Even being vegetarian can qualify you for a scholarship nowadays. There’s no set limit for the number of scholarships you can apply for in a year. The more applications, the higher chances of winning a scholarship for your college degree.
3) Consider work-study programs
Work-study programs are another effective way of ensuring you’re working toward a debt-free college degree. These programs involve getting a job while studying to help students pay for their studies.
- Enrolling in these programs will help improve both time management and problem-solving skills.
- These life skills will come in handy post-college when searching for jobs or starting a business.
- Work-study programs can also boost your resume.
If you’re a finance student, working in your college’s finance department will give you an added advantage in your future career. You can also choose to join a work-study program that’s unrelated to your major.
4) Take advantage of tuition reimbursement
Tuition reimbursement occurs when your employer contributes to your college tuition fees if you meet the qualification requirements. Usually, organizations that offer the program add the benefit to their employee’s salaries. Learn more about your employer’s qualifications before you enroll in this kind of program.
Note that you’ll be required to pay for the costs of obtaining your college degree upfront. Once you’ve made the payments and submitted all the necessary information, your employer will reimburse the tuition fees. Some firms only pay for college degrees in certain fields, while others allow some flexibility for their employees.
5) Minimize your expenses
This piece of advice may sound obvious, but very few people budget. If your child is joining college soon, make sure they can make (and stick to) a budget. College students should list their monthly incomes and expenses. By doing so, your child will take ownership of their college experience.
Talk to your child about tracking their expenses. This will help them create a budget with the goal of spending less than they make. If your child sees how much it costs to pay for various expenses, they’re likely to take their studies more seriously.
Encourage them to become creative to save on essentials. For example, they can learn to cook new meals instead of constantly eating out. This simple lifestyle change could help your child save thousands of dollars during their studies. Another way of lowering expenses during your college education is by living with roommates.
Related: The Real Cost of College
6) Apply for tuition waivers
You can significantly lower college costs by taking advantage of tuition waivers. If you qualify for waivers, your educational institution will waive some or all your college tuition fees. The qualification requirements vary from one college to another. Some schools offer waivers as part of their employee benefits package.
In some cases, you may get tuition waivers if your spouse or parent works in a college and you’re considered dependent on them. Some institutions can also offer benefits to students experiencing financial hardship.
Go For a Debt-Free College Degree Today
These strategies can help students graduate college with a degree in hand and little to no student debt dragging behind. It’s a dream that so many wish they would have gone for when they first started their college journey. If you’re going to college or have a child going to college, consider implementing these strategies to help you out.
Are you preparing for a debt-free college degree effectively?
AUTHOR LaTia Longuemire
My name is LaTia Longuemire. I enjoy writing, singing, and cooking in my spare time. My passion is helping others. At this stage in my lifetime, I'm primarily focused on my children. They are everything that keeps my world spinning.