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According to Forbes.com, the AVERAGE student loan debt is a whopping $32,000! This is insane! With this understanding, some are much lower, and yet some are much higher.
We may agree that sometimes it is inevitable to accumulate some debt while attending college. For instance, a typical medical student pursuing a future as a Medical Doctor (or Osteopathic Doctor) will, on average, accumulate $150,000-$250,000 in student loan debt. It would be rare, not impossible, for someone to complete this training without incurring any debt.
When you think of Medical Doctors, Attorneys, Architects, and other high-paying roles, it may be viewed as acceptable to take on a certain level of debt while completing education. The concern then comes for students who take on higher loads of debt who won’t have higher paying jobs on completion of their training.
For instance, according to this website, students attending Bachelor of Fine Arts programs incurred approximately $40,000 in debt at the completion of their program and may not have a profitable career on the completion of their training!
Here are 7 Surprising Ways to Save on College and Prevent Debt!
Scholarship/Grants/Work Study Programs
Research some different ways to get scholarships and apply for ALL scholarships that your college offers. There are many scholarship opportunities outside of your institution and the more you file for, the higher the chance you may get some FREE money! Remember to fill out your FAFSA before the application deadline to be eligible for higher grant amounts, too. Many schools offer some work study programs where you might be a residential adviser, work in the cafeteria, assist with grounds-keeping, and more. The work may be very minimal but can pay off.
Employer Tuition Reimbursement
Tuition reimbursement is an EXCELLENT way to save on education! Some employers are offering sizable tuition reimbursement programs to recruit and retain trained and qualified staff. Check with your HR department if you are unsure your employer offers this. If you are job hunting, ask about this during an interview!
Attending community college
Community or technical colleges are GREAT options for saving money. You can first get general credits out of the way or even complete an entire degree before progressing on for a traditional 4-year program. If you have students in high school and they are contemplating college, see if the local community college allows students to complete college credit programs while still in high school. This is a way to attend college FOR FREE!!!!
Installment plans can be set up to pay for tuition over an extended period of time (perhaps 4 or 9 month period), which lessens the burden of having to pay tuition and fees upfront and can prevent taking out education loans.
Living at Home
Living at home while in college is a great way to supplement your savings. This may not be an option for all students, but would help decrease the expense of living in dorms or off campus in non-traditional housing.
Using Student Loans for Actual Tuition and Fees
Many people I know utilized the student loans to pay them to live well while in school. These loans are to be used for education, however, can be structured to pay for any living expenses, too. Students should be encouraged to work while attending school (if possible) and use these loans to pay for the educational expenses only to help decrease their financial burden.
Don’t Go To College
Ok, so it’s not really a way to save on college, but we have to admit that college isn’t for everyone and nor should it be! College is a great option for some long term careers, but it isn’t a good idea for others. I want my Medical Doctor to be appropriately trained and knowledgeable just like I want my mechanic to be trained and knowledgeable.
In the past (and possibly still today), trade schools and community colleges had a bad rap from various individuals or professions and were looked down upon as being inferior to traditional 4-year colleges. The below quote from the awesome Mike Rowe sums it up pretty nicely…
“We’re lending money we don’t have to kids who can’t pay it back to educate them for jobs that don’t exist anymore, Bad idea!” – Mike Rowe
Unfortunately, many people peddle the idea that college is the best option for everyone and sign students up for loans they will not be able to repay (ever). All to get them “secured” in jobs that won’t exist by the time they are done with their training (or never existed before their training).
I am curious on your thoughts for saving on college education. At what point would you say that your college degree or debt would no longer be worth it? What would you tell the students who are choosing to incur debt they will be repaying for the next 20-30 years?
Remember, we are passionate to help you in “Saving Money to Make Memories.”