Are you thinking about a college degree, but worried about paying back loans for college? Before you’ve even started attending college? It can be daunting to consider how much debt Americans go into for their degrees. U.S. News & World Report found the average bachelor’s degree graduate takes 21 years to pay off their loans. Twenty. One. Years!!!! Loans are the most talked about method to pay for college, so it’s often what we assume is our best option. There are other ways. With hard work and creative thinking, you can graduate debt free and ready to reach success!
Is the degree you’re pursing needed? Look at sites like the Business Labor and see what the projected need will be. Medical field and other similar degrees are always growing, but other degrees may not be as needed or harder to find placement. Make sure your degree is marketable so that it is worth having. Some fields, for example electricians, plumbers, event planners, cosmetologists- offer apprenticeships, giving your hands-on job experience, learning while you earn money, without needing a degree. At the end of the day, they are qualified individuals with a highly marketable skillset.
Choose an Affordable Education
Online college, community college, night classes, state college- these all have the same degree for different tuition costs. You might have to readjust your expectations for your dream school. Trade schools are also a route to explore. Mechanics, welders, cosmetologists are all licensed individuals.
Scholarships are funds that are earned that you never have to pay back! Usually you just have to maintain a certain GPA or qualify for them in specific ways. Treat your scholarship search like a job search. Search frequently, since new scholarships and deadlines are being set up all the time. Look into your parents’ workplaces to see if scholarships are offered for children of employees, or even someplace where you could work and earn a scholarship. Some fast food places will grant scholarships to employees and put them through college. Get in touch with local community groups, businesses, and charities to see if they have local scholarships. Be prepared to write some essays about their personal experiences and career goals.
Work during school. It’s completely possible for most degrees, a little trickier for post-graduate schools or medical programs. Although this sounds backwards, there’s research that shows college students who also worked focused better and were able to achieve higher grades. They learn to manage their time and prioritize their social life. A few options are work study programs, which FAFSA notifies you if you are eligible for. They are usually on campus, and compatible with your school schedule. Other on-campus jobs are available, from early morning janitorial, to bookstores, to office staff. Apply and keep on applying each semester.
Don’t confuse an education with intelligence- you want to be marketable in a relevant field but without a boatload of student debt. Think, plan, and execute. You can do this!