My Degree Was Obtained Debt-Free
The road to my college degrees was long and arduous but the payoff of obtaining two degrees and having no debt on graduation day was worth it. With no scholarships or grants to fund the way, it took a collection of methods and nearly 20 years, but any one method could lead to your degree, debt free.
Early in life my parents taught me to save by opening a savings account and was encouraged to save money towards college. Christmas money, birthday card cash, even a few dollars for good grades on the report cards was often put in the bank. My father even matched what I put in over the years to get a good start for my education. I even worked odd jobs like cutting grass and raking yards to put some money away. These efforts helped some, but college is expensive and it was a drop in the bucket.
I dual enrolled in high school taking night classes at the local community college paying as I went. Soon, learning about special enlistment bonuses for joining critical career fields in the Air Force Reserves, I signed up to serve. The bonus included college reimbursement of classes with acceptable grades and included books.
After three years I entered active duty and used the on-base extensions of local community and national colleges to take discounted classes during off duty time. I was unable to take advantage of the GI Bill, but basic training and military technical schools equated to college credits reducing the number of required classes.
DANTES (Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support) tests give you college credit, like CLEP tests, based on how high you score. And after reading a used Peter F. Drucker book on management, I scored high enough to bypass two management classes saving time and money.
The Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) allows United States Air Force active, reserve, and guard personnel to obtain a two year degree in their career field. My AS degree in Aircraft Armament Systems Technology was obtained from the CCAF while in the Air National Guard.
My career has included major corporations with college tuition reimbursement programs as well. Initially classes were paid with savings or a credit card, then the reimbursement paid the debt, savings, or the next round of classes and books.
One employer had the local military base college extensions come on site to offer courses after work, providing similar savings offered to military personnel. Finally, my last corporate employer had a welcomed retraining fund that came with the undesired layoff, but paid for the last of my BA in Business Administration Management.
As you can see, I used many techniques that were available along the way. I even saved by buying used books on campus books stores, then at Amazon's market place to keep costs low. At the end of my four year degree, I am without any college related debt and can enjoy the rewards that come from having done so.
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