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Book Review: 'Debt-Free U'

Updated on January 19, 2018
tamarawilhite profile image

Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of two, and published sci-fi and horror author.

What Can You Learn from “Debt-Free U” by Zac Bissonnette?

  • What does college really cost? The book “Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching off My Parents” gives the total cost for college, both with and without room and board, that students and parents wish they knew before signing up for school.
  • Even parents whose children are a few years away from starting college will get an eye-opening look at the current cost of college, which has gone up at three times the rate of inflation. In comparison, the “skyrocketing” costs of medical insurance have only been increasing at twice the rate of inflation.
  • It is refreshing to hear someone state that student loans are not financial aid, as well revealing the kickbacks colleges receive for referring students to certain lenders. Never assume you could or should use the loan provider referred by the college.
  • Pick a college you can afford! If you do not have the savings or scholarships to pay for a private school or out of state school, you need to attend a local state college. Unless you are attending Harvard, Stanford or MIT, the "brand" of school doesn't matter unless it is widely known as a diploma mill.
  • You save even more by going to community college for the first two years.
  • Don't forget to get college credit for AP classes taken in high school and take Advanced Placement tests in college for subjects you are familiar with.
  • Live cheap by living at home while going to school.
  • Zac Bissonnette has excellent advice on scholarships and grants, including ones that are not as well known. Searching databases of national scholarships is a start, but check with the college as well for scholarships that are institution specific.

If you didn't start saving for college when your kids were this age, you need to read the book "Debt Free U".
If you didn't start saving for college when your kids were this age, you need to read the book "Debt Free U". | Source

What Are the Cons of “Debt-Free U”?

  • It is very reasonable for someone to get a full time job over summer break. A part time paying position during the school year is manageable. The advice to work full time during the school term is not feasible for many students.
  • The book "Debt-Free U" would have benefited from providing more advice on which college degrees are worth the expense (science, technology, engineering, math and medicine) as compared to essentially worthless college degrees such as the social sciences, literature, philosophy, ethnic studies and gender studies.
  • “Debt-Free U” ignores the costs and benefits of trade schools. Which trade school degrees, such as welding or registered nursing assistant, have the best pay compared to the time and expense required to earn them? What is the general cost of a trade school education? What are the scholarship options for trade school? Many students need this information, and it is not available in this book.
  • “Debt-Free U” also ignores the cost of going back to school as an adult for a Master’s degree or finishing college.


For high school seniors ready to become college students, I rate Debt Free U 4 out of 5 stars. For everyone else trying to pay for college, it's worth 2 1/2 stars out of five.


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