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Graduating College With Out Student Loan Debt

Updated on April 27, 2015

College has gotten ridiculously expensive over the past decade or so - to the point that very few people seem to be able to graduate from college with out student loan debt. I find this very frustrating, because an education is more important than anything when it comes to getting a good paying job. Yet an education is increasingly difficult for people to obtain. I wanted to talk about some ways to avoid student loan debt AND still graduate from college.

First, it is never too early to plan. As a parent if you can save money for your child's college education from the time they are babies that is the best thing you can do. But realistically, most people can't save anything for their children's education. Even if parents are able to help, most are not able to pay for the entire thing. If you haven't saved anything and college is looming quickly, you can still plan ahead though.

Have your child apply for every scholarship and grant they can find. There are things that your child can do during high school that will greatly improve their chances of getting scholarships. Be involved in sports, activities and clubs. Many times there will be scholarships available for members. Think about things that will look good on an application (i.e. volunteering, earning your Eagle Scout, interning in your desired field, etc). Have your child do everything they can to keep their grades up and to be a well rounded person. There are so many scholarships available, but it requires work to find them, apply for them and earn them. Be willing to put the time in searching for scholarships and you will be rewarded for money for college.

Make sure your child has a job. My kids have had a job for eight years now and they range in age from 10-16. They are required to set aside a certain percentage of their income to help with college expenses. No it isn't a lot each week, but it does add up over time. And they have created the habit of saving for college. Older kids have a much better shot at getting a job and earning more money. Of course they should have some spending money, but even at a young age, they can grasp the importance of saving money for their education. My 16 year old worked for 4 months last summer and saved $1350 for a car. He will do it again this summer and probably have the first year's books covered for college with the money he makes.

Choose your school wisely. Typically going to an in-state school will be cheaper than an out-of-state school. For most careers it is just not that important where you get your degree from, but more that you have a degree. Compare the cost and the financial aid package for all the schools you are choosing - public and private. Then make a decision on what you can afford. Don't rule out a school because you think it is too expensive. You never know what kind of funding they will offer your child until you apply.

Have your child take college courses while still in high school. Many public school districts will pay for students to take college courses while they are still attending high school. This is a great way to get some of the basic, mandatory classes out of the way for free before ever starting college. You should not be locked into that school, because the credits will transfer to any college.

Attend a community college for a year or so getting the basic courses out of the way at a much lower price than a four year college would charge for the exact same thing. You could possibly even live at home during that time, reducing your costs tremendously. Then, based on what you want to get your degree in, you can transfer to a college for the last couple of years of specialized instruction. This could cut your college costs by up to half.

Seventh, once you get into college look for work study opportunities. At the school I went to, there were many people that worked at the school for 10-20 hours a week in order to pay for their tuition or room and board. Even if you can't get into a work study job, you can still get a job. I worked my entire way through college and I truly believe it helped me be a better student. It absolutely helped me avoid going into debt.

Eighth, room and board is expensive. The faster you can get through college the sooner you can start earning a real income. If you know what you want to do career wise, you can focus on the necessary classes sooner and graduate in three years instead of four. Your tuition costs might be the same as if you went four years, but you will reduce your room and board by 25% AND you will start earning money sooner. Be a Residential Advisor when you are an upper class man to get free room and board. RA's live in the dorms with younger students to offer guidance and help keep the peace.

Graduating college is a wonderful thing and I wish everyone had the opportunity to do so. I really don't like seeing people take out student loans to pay for their education. I hope these ideas will help everyone afford college and avoid debt altogether. Good luck!


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      good Hub and useful information on colleges and school education without debt

    • jdomingo profile image


      8 years ago from Texas

      Great Hub Loads of useful information, I'm 23 and trying to get back into school and needed some useful information like this! Thanks a bunch!

    • gcampbell123 profile image


      8 years ago from Jamaica, W.I.

      Jennifer, you've really given me an education re finding alternative means of financing a college education.

      ...especially re having kids contribute to financing their own education from early...thus giving them ownership in the process.


      I've found your hub to be so useful, that I've linked to it in my own hub,"Compare Student Loans in a Few Easy Clicks": .


    • profile image

      Transportation Collection Agency 

      8 years ago

      Great post. A lot of people don't think it is possible to get a degree without a huge debt. Thanks for showing how this can be done.

    • governmentgrant profile image


      8 years ago

      I'm very new to Hub so I was wondering what a 90plus hub looks like. This is the first hub I read. The others were simple spamming pages with no information at all. I'm not any better, but at least I spent some time putting good info together.

      If anybody is interested in free money (college grants) for college I welcome you to my hub at

    • profile image

      Student Loans 

      8 years ago

      A smart way to avoid mounting debt in the first place is to compare all your student loan options before borrowing anything at all. There are lots of great resources online that will help you find out how to pay for college. My favorite student loan comparison site is because it shows the banks willing to lend to my school and lets me sort them by interest rate, number of monthly payments, or whatever I want. Always remember to understand what you are getting yourself into before borrowing to avoid a nightmare in the future!

    • Karina S. profile image

      Karina S. 

      8 years ago from USA

      It is outragesly expensive, my son is a law school student and it cost more than 30000 per year.Thanks for you hub and great tips.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thank you for bringing this to other's attention. I wish that a lot of people I know would read this and seriously consider it. I have an idea to add. Try finding a company or facility to pay for you college in exchange for your services for so many years. I am getting an $80,000 graduate tuition paid by a local hopsital and I paid less than $5,000 for a bachelors with a minor. I cannot emphasize good grades and being involved in your community and school enough through out highschool!

    • knowledgeispower profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for informing us how to graduate without a student loan debt.


    • profile image

      captn robert 

      8 years ago

      Great post Jennifer. I took on what I thought was an oppressive debt of $16,000 for four years of private college. Today that's barely a semester's tuition. There is an incredible amount of scholarship money out there for the taking if students are willing to do some work to get it. I'll use your tips when my daughters start talking about college.

    • Cindy Says profile image

      Cindy Says 

      8 years ago from St. Petersburg, Florida

      articleposter - You have it easier in the UK because the government, as I understand it, doesn't really press you to pay off your debt. In the US, the government is very aggressive in doing things like attaching property and garnishing wages. Even bankruptcy doesn't help, since student loans can't be discharged in a bankruptcy.

      Way back in the sixties, completed my degree in eleven rather than twelve quarters. I also went to summer school so that my parents only had both of us in school at one time. I heartily endorse graduating as quickly as possible to save money.

      Remember that state schools are not necessarily inferior to private schools. The University of Illinois has the best accounting department in the country by far. They also have the top chemistry department.

      In-state only matters for state and city schools. If you go to a private university, it doesn't matter where you go.

      Top students should apply to some expensive private universities because it can end up being less expensive than attending an in-state university. Universities like Harvard have large endowments and usually have more generous scholarship programs. They are also more apt to have higher limits for financial aid. Harvard raised its income limit to $125,000 for financial aid. Your state university won't be that generous. Apply to a state or city school, but try some of the private schools, too. This sometimes is true of out-of-state schools, too. My ex-husband got a scholarship to a top public university that made it cheaper than than his in-state university.

      In-state schools regard their lower tuition as a scholarship for everybody.

    • articleposter profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for the good post Jennifer.

      Helpful to someone like me who has just over £10K of student Loan to re-pay. Shouldve read this 3 years ego, or poster 3 years ego


    • missmarsh profile image

      Loralie Lyndon 

      8 years ago from USA

      I wish I would have had this information before I went to college and graduated. So helpful! Thanks.

    • DiamondRN profile image

      Bob Diamond RPh 

      8 years ago from Charlotte, NC USA

      I am proof that it can be done, Jennifer. I went to college with 3 young sons when I was 28 years old. We only had $2,000 dollars in the bank. My wife and I got part-time jobs in a small college town in Michigan. We lived in married housing. We worked as much as we could; she in the school infirmary and me as a handyman for the owner of several off-campus student housing units. We ate a lot of beans and rice and hamburger meat. There were some small grants available to healthcare students each quarter. In the end, we only had to borrow $600 dollars in order to obtain a pharmacy degree. Praise God.

    • proudgrandpa profile image


      8 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      Great advise. I would say a great Amen to the community college and choosing a college that makes sense. This helps students realize that choosing the best party school may not be the best way to reach their goals and the prestige deal isn't as important as most people think. Good and thorough hub once again. Thanks, NEIL

      PS. Yes Pollyannalana Jennifer is a very good Mom.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      These are really great \nd helpful advices. I am sure you will receive a lot appreciation. Thank you for writing this hub.

    • Pollyannalana profile image


      8 years ago from US

      You sound like a wonderful Mom and I am sure with you as a Mom they will have a much better chance to go far. You are teaching them at a young age to work at a goal, instead of having them think it is their just dues.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I would add that it's worthwhile to for students to learn to make their own meals. A meal plan at my school ranges from 1000 to 1200 dollars a semester. Elsewhere, I guess it's the same if not higher. Groceries can easily be bought for a few hundred less a semester. Though, it's really important that the student plans to eat healthy otherwise those savings on food in the short run may result in bad health in the long run!

      That reminds me, exercise. People, college students included, incur a costs by being inactive and overweight. It might only be priced into to the medical bills in the long run, but it can certainly imediately make a difference in your quality of life in college (which is something that has a very big impact on your studies).


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