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Avoid Loans in Your College Years


College is often times one of the most memorable experiences of your entire life! Within 4 or 5 years you learn how to survive on your own, discipline yourself to complete projects by pre-determined deadlines, and you learn how to handle your very own finances! All of this while being pressured into random trips, slip and slides, and other crazy adventures (don’t ask please).

Unfortunately, most of us are not adequately prepared for the financial obligations involved in schooling, and since we do not have the money to attend, what do we do? Get Student Loans! The government seems to be your best friend during those college years. They provide all the money you need (and sometimes more than we need…Spring Break Trip anyone??), and they charge what seems like a very low interest rate.

We go through our day to day lives and everything seems to be going wonderfully. Sure, we have some student loans, but so does everyone else, right? If everyone else is doing it, then it must be the right thing to do….

My wife and I both got caught in this trap. Between the two of us, we owed more than $18,000 in student loans. We weren’t irresponsible with our money; we simply didn’t make enough money to cover all of our college expenses.

And then it happens….

Yay! You’ve graduated! Your job search begins and you hope to make at least $70,000 per year. If you get that job, you promise yourself that you’ll pay down those student loans as fast as possible. But, that grandiose job never comes. You are stuck working as a temp for $16, which only equates to about $33,000 per year. You barely make enough to live on, let alone pay off your student loans. Regardless of your situation though, school is over and you MUST begin paying down those debts. This is why I urge everyone to avoid loans in your college years.

How to Avoid Those Student Loans

  1. Start working early in life – it doesn’t even matter what the job is, just start working one. When you have one, it’s much easier to find something else. Save that money up while you are living with your parents so that you can pay for at least some of your college expenses.
  2. Seek out Scholarships– there are so many scholarships being offered these days. In fact, there are thousands (if not millions) of scholarship dollars that go to waste each year because there is not one single application for them! If you applied for these, it would mean guaranteed money. Check online and talk with college counselors to seek out as many of these scholarships as possible.
  3. Work While in College – it’s not easy, but just by having a part-time job at night and on the weekends, one can pay for their college expenses. Also, don’t sluff off during the summers; browse all vacancies to get a full-time factory job and save up money for next year’s tuition.
  4. Develop a Side-gig – my wife and I both did this without even knowing it. She used to cut other students’ hair for $5 a person. It was quick cash for her (and she enjoyed it), plus it was a deal for other student’s as well. I bought some products in large amounts, and resold them for an overall profit.
  5. Eat Cheap Food– while it may not be the most nutritional, Ramon Noodles has gotten plenty of students through college with a low food bill. This will also allow you to treat yourself once in a while. Near our hometown, there are 1/2 off appetizers at some local restaurants on Tuesday nights. It’s a fun time, and it’s way cheaper than going out for a 3-course meal. This balance will save you a ton of money on food.

If, by doing all of these things, you still can’t afford to go to college without debt, perhaps it would be wise to take an alternate route. Do you ultimately want to become a doctor? It might be better to start with . If you’d like to become a lawyer, maybe you should first get a degree to become a legal secretary. You can always pursue more schooling while you work. Plus, this way you’ll be able to save up money for future classes.

Do you remember your college years? What did you do to save money? Do you regret any financial decisions that you made?



My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. I’m sorry, but I disagree with several of these points.

    1) Eat Ramen Noodles — these are horrible for your health. The sodium level in them is outrageous. Never rob from your future health to save a couple of bucks. The health-care bills and lost productivity you’ll pay down the road will cost you dearly.

    2) Work while in school — up to a limit (15-20 hours a week), fine. Any more than that, and you’re destroying your GPA. You’re in college to learn, not to work minimum-wage jobs. And the higher your GPA, the better of a chance you have of getting grants for a fantastic grad school.

    • It’s true, Ramen Noodles are pretty bad for you, but a mountain of debt can add stress, and therefore be bad for your health as well.

      I agree with you about limiting your work hours. I worked about 30 hours a week, and it was pretty tough, but I still did very well in school. I definitely wouldn’t advise working more than that.

  2. I couldn’t agree more with your post. I’m currently in school and I’m able to save so much money by having scholarships. I think a point you neglected was that if possible live at home if the school is close enough. Housing alone is a couple hundred a month that could go towards paying for classes.

    -Ravi G.

    • Living at home is a great way to save money too! I did this for 2 or 3 years, and it definitely helped! I needed to buy a more fuel efficient vehicle though….

  3. Community college is a great alternative. It is inexpensive and after you graduate, no one will care that you did not spend 4 years at your alma mater. State schools is another alternative, but their tuition is increasing thanks to budgetary issues.

    • I agree! I went to a community college for my first 2 years, and it’s true, no one looks at that. They only look at the State college that I attended for the remaining years.

  4. I couldn’t agree more. I went to a community college for the first two years then a private college and paid for it all with cash! It’s a great feeling knowing I don’t owe anyone anything for my education.

  5. The cost of secondary education is without a doubt likely to go way up due to to the Tea Party candidates cutting education out of their own budgets leaving the actual colleges virtually no choice but to boost tuitions.

  6. In addition, we should all remember that loaning is just an option. If you choose to loan then it’s your responsibility to pay the loan as much as you can. But, if you don’t need a loan then it’s you benefit because you are maintaining a good and debt-free life.

    • You’ve got that right Liz. I would fight tooth and nail to survive without ever taking out a loan, but I do understand the logic behind it for those that choose to.

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