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How to Get an Education Without Debt

With average student loan debts hovering a little over $30,000 after graduation, many people think it’s impossible to get an education without debt. But it’s not! In fact, with technology, education is expanding exponentially, and there are a ton of ways to learn, and even get a degree, without pulling out a single loan.

How to Get an Education Without Debt

This post has been written by our talented staff writer, Kimberly Studdard.

So what can you do if you’re ready to head to school, but you’re having a hard time making the numbers work without taking out those dreaded student loans? Even though many people would tell you otherwise, there’s actually plenty you can do! Take the steps below and you’ll be well on your way to get an education without debt!

1) Choose the Right College

Choosing the right college can help you get an education without debt. While private and ivy league colleges may seem like the best option, at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter where you go to school (well…just don’t pick the University of Phoenix or something stupid like that). In fact, there are so many successful people that didn’t go to ivy leagues! So why spend the money if you don’t have to?

Instead, I would start off by going to a community college or a state college with decent tuition prices. Many community colleges also offer dual credit during high school, so if you have a child in high school, look into it! It can be a significant savings to transfer college credits earned in high school.

Related: Top 10 Tips for College Students

get an education without debt

2) Scholarships

Scholarships are all the rage when it comes to those applying for college. There are thousands of scholarships available, and too many of them go unclaimed every year. You don’t have to have extraordinary grades or athletic abilities to receive one either (although it can help!). There are many different types of scholarships for even the most random things, like loving makeup or even being a redhead.

Remember, you won’t qualify for every scholarship you apply for. But even a few can add up to help you get an education without debt. The biggest pro about scholarships is that you don’t have to pay them back, and typically you can get more than one!

The trick to getting scholarships is to start local and be sure to apply for all the small ones. Ten $1,000 scholarships add up to just as much as that huge $10,000 scholarship!

3) Online College or Online Courses

I’m going to be honest…online colleges can have a bad reputation. Between lawsuits, exorbitant fees, and unqualified staff, you may be hesitant to try out an online college or course.

But I promise, times are changing. Not only are there good online colleges out there, but these days, college may not even be necessary, unless you want to get into the medical, law, or trade field.

University of the People (also known as UoPeople) is an accredited, tuition-free online college. You would only pay your exams and assessment fees. Exams are after each course and only cost $100 each, and assessment fees cost $200 each. According to their website, UoPeople lists the average costs for an associate’s at $2,500, bachelor’s degree at around $4,000, and master’s around $6,000 (although the master’s is the only one that isn’t accredited). They also have multiple scholarships for those who are low income, refugees, or who served in the military. They only offer three majors (health science, business administration, and computer science), but that’s still a great start!

If you aren’t looking to get a traditional degree, but want to learn for the benefit of it, try out online programs like Khan Academy, Udemy, Coursera, or Lynda. All of these websites offer free or low cost courses that can help you gain valuable skills for the workplace (or prepare you for self-employment!)  

4) Work for It

Some colleges will offer you free tuition in exchange for 10 to 20 hours of work each week, and some even offer you room and board for free as well.

Before applying to these colleges, always read the fine print. Some requirements may mean you don’t qualify, like being out of state or not being low income. If you do get accepted into these type of colleges, awesome! You are well on your way to be able to get an education without debt.

5) Choose A Career First

Not everyone goes into college right after high school. And that’s okay. There are so many other options to explore if you choose to go into the workforce first. The military is a popular option, and there are quite a few companies that will pay for you or reimburse you to attend college after you’ve worked for them a while (some, like Starbucks, even offers this benefit for part-time employees)

Just keep in mind that you’ll have to work and go to school at the same time if you take this route. But if you can handle working long hours, and if you need the extra income while in school, this is a great way to get an education without debt. Plus, you may even get a promotion once you finish your degree!

Related: 4 Huge Benefits of Graduating College With No Debt

It’s Your Turn: Get an Education Without Debt

Like I said, it’s absolutely possible to get an education without debt. If you’re really serious about it, be sure to:

  • find a college at a reasonable cost
  • apply for scholarships like it’s your full-time job
  • consider online college or online courses
  • find a college that’s willing to reduce the tuition if you work there, or
  • get a job at a place that will pay for your tuition.

All of these are valid options and might just get you that pristine education without debt of any kind! Wouldn’t that just be awesome?! Imagine, you’re in your young 20’s, you’ve got a great education and you don’t have debt of any kind. Think of how far ahead you’d be in life! It’s going to take work, but I think it’s totally worth it.

So what about you? Are you ready to get an education without debt? You’d better say, “Yes!”

Battle of the Mind Save Money


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. Thank you for this informative article. This article should help many people out. Even though I’m 60 years old I think I’ll check out some of these online schools and learn something new. Now, where did I put my racoon coat?

    • Ha, nice Cooper! It’s never to late to learn something new!!

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