Buck the system one more time and graduate from school debt free. It might be a challenge, but your future self will love you for it!!
There’s excitement in the air this time of year. Hope’s a-brewin’. Yep, it’s high school graduation season. It’s full of students looking forward to graduation, keynote speakers hoping to inspire, and maybe one last summer at home before packing off to a new adventure at a college or university. But for many, it’s an especially dangerous time for their finances. Many a new high-school graduate will now embark on a debt-filled next four or five years, but with scarcely a care in the world for what they’re doing to their finances. They’re told that school loans are a fact of life, something you deal with later.
But, does it have to be that way? Does a new college graduate also have to be laden with student-loan debt? Not necessarily. However, unless you’ve got a rich uncle (or someone else) who financed your way through college, it’ll take work. It’s a job well worth the effort, though, because it can help you get to financial freedom with much less difficulty. So, what’s the formula? Read on.
Treat Looking For College Money As A Job
Since grants and scholarships equal money for college just like working and saving, why not treat looking for college money as a job? Take it seriously, though, and work hard at it. Devote time consistently and don’t be afraid to apply for many, many opportunities. There are numerous subsidies out there, and you could have a real chance at some of them. But, when you apply, really complete all the steps. If an essay is required, spend time and do an excellent job on it. I’ve been on scholarship committees in my day, and many times an outstanding composition was the tie-breaker in the scholarship competition. People who review scholarship applications take their jobs seriously, so take your role as the applicant seriously. It could be well worth your time.
Make Sure College Is A Requirement For Your Career Field
I always tell prospective college students that they need to think hard about their passion. What do they want to do with their lives? Often, what I hear, is “I don’t know.” Hmm. If you don’t know, why do you want to spend thousands of dollars on college? Sure, you can figure it out along the way, taking your required classes while you find your real passion. But, why not spend time figuring that out during high school and be ready to hit the ground running in college? And, in the midst of your figuring, you might find out that an expensive college is not even needed for what you want to do.
National statistics say that 41% of students will not graduate with a bachelor’s degree in six years, let alone four years. This number means that many people go to college, incur student loan debt and never leave with a degree. So, before you ever decide to go to college, make sure it’s what you need for your chosen field.
Consider Going To A Community College First
A local community college can be a tremendous initial choice for all sorts of reasons. Many high schools let students take community college classes for free while they’re still in high school. I’ve known students that were close to graduating with an associate degree when they graduated from high school. Wow. Think of the money that saved. Or, if a person doesn’t know what they want to major in yet but knows that college is the right choice, community college can be a way to get the required classes out of the way while still living at home. Then, when a decision is made on a career field, the credits can be transferred to a four-year college. Going to a two-year college first, especially if you can still live at home, is a great way to save a ton amount of money getting through college.
Don’t Tell Yourself You Can’t Work Because You Have To Study
Many students and parents for that matter will say that a job is out of the question during college because the student “needs to study.” But, frankly, I call “hooey” on that. I went to college, and I did a lot better when I was busy with a job and school. I had to get a lot more proficient at scheduling my time and using it productively. When I was just “studying,” I spent a lot more time socializing, staying up late and not studying. When I started working while still going to school, my grades went up, and I had more money because I wasn’t out spending it. It was pretty much a win-win situation. So, if you’ve decided that college is the right place for you to be, then add in some work time. You’ll earn money to keep the costs down, and you’ll probably get better grades.
Consider A Service Commitment
Many young people will say how much they’d like to be able to see the world. And, as a person who loves to travel, I totally get it. Traveling, however, tends to be expensive, just like college. But, guess what? There’s a way to do both! Yes, it may be possible to get at least a portion of your college paid for by serving in one of the “Corps,” like the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps. ROTC (and then the military) is another way to serve. Think of the adventures you could have. Now, especially for something like this, be sure you’re fully aware of how things work before you sign up. These are real commitments requiring the giving of real time and effort on your part. So, don’t take the decision-making process lightly. But, I’ve known people who’ve participated in these programs, and they can be great for the right people.
Be Okay With Taking A Little Longer To Finish, If Needed
Have you ever taken a little longer than you planned to get something done but still finished? Graduating from college is a lot about setting a big goal and completing it. And, it’s not necessarily about getting finished in four years. If you can get through college with little or no debt but need to take five or six years to do it, so be it. It’s typically not a big deal. And, it might help you grow up a little more in the process. Part of getting through college is learning more about yourself before you go out into the “real world.” So, taking a little longer could be quite helpful, as long as the net cost is nothing but time. Maybe you discover your real passion in the process, and that makes the extra time even more worth it.
Setting yourself up for a great future is essential. We’re only on this earth for a short time, so we need to make it count. So don’t saddle yourself with a bunch of student-loan debt before you even get started. Think differently about how you fund college or whatever that next step after high school ends up being. Buck the system one more time, graduate from college debt-free. Your future self will love you for it.