How To Afford College

How to Pay for College With Little or No Debt

Many families with meager college savings funds are wondering how to afford college for their children. Fortunately, there are creative ways of financing college without breaking the bank.

How To Afford College

When I graduated from college over thirty years ago, I didn’t have to worry about how I was going to pay back my student loan debt. I was able to pay for college without loans through a combination of savings, scholarships, grants, and working during school and the summers. I was living debt free and in a good position to start my life in pursuit of financial freedom.

Not many of today’s students can look forward to the same opportunity. With the cost of higher education ever increasing, the outlook doesn’t look good for students wondering how to pay for college without accumulating debt. In fact, most parents, students, and financial aid administrators consider student loans an important component of affording college.

How to Afford College by Reducing the Cost

  • Students should be encouraged to take Advanced Placement courses and exams in high school. AP is a cost effective program that allows students to take college level courses in high school. Through successful completion of AP exams, students can obtain college credit.
  • Dual enrollment is another option for students to earn college credit while in high school. In many states, students can take courses for little or no cost for which they can earn both high school and college credit.
  • In addition to the certificate and degree programs they offer, community colleges often provide a low-cost way for students to complete general requirements before transferring to another college or university.
  • Students should strongly consider the cost when choosing an institution to attend. Costs vary a great deal between institutions and in some fields a degree from a prestigious university may be worth more. However, often a degree is just a degree, regardless of the college.
  • There are a growing number of colleges and universities that offer free tuition. You can easily find many of these by searching online for “tuition-free colleges.”
  • In addition to tuition, room and board can be major costs. Families considering how to afford college can save significantly when the student lives at home rather than in a dorm or an apartment.

Financial Aid for College

  • Students can do many things to pursue scholarships. In addition to doing well academically, they can cultivate their talents in areas such as athletics, music, speech, etc. They can also show their desire to give back to society by being active in community service, church, and charitable service.
  • Families can position themselves for grants and need-based financial aid. You can use an expected family contribution calculator to estimate your financial aid and see how changes to your financial situation may affect your financial aid.
  • There are also education tax credits available to help in financing college.

Affording College By Working

  • Students can work at part time jobs in high school as well as college. Although the pay rates may not be high, wages earned by students as part of a federal work study program in college may be exempt from FICA withholding.
  • A student could work full time for a year in between high school and college. This is a good way to raise a significant amount of funds, especially if the student can live at home during that time.
  • A parent could work for a college to receive an employee tuition discount benefit. For example, Seattle Pacific University offers a reduction of up to 90 % for employees and their families.

The question of how to afford college without accumulating much debt is a difficult one. By following some of the ideas presented here, you will be better equipped to take on that task.

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