How to Avoid College Debt


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The article “How to Avoid College Debt” highlights important factors which should be considered for frugal financial planning for college. It also educates students about financial aid options and online education which can also be a part of a full proof financial planning.

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How to Avoid College Debt

  1. 1. How to Avoid College DebtCollege tuition and fees have hit the roof. In fact, cost has become one of the most important decidingfactors when deciding whether or not to go to college.According to College Board, the average tuition and fees charged by public and private non-profit four-year colleges in 2011-12 ranged between $8,244 and $28,500 per year. The cost was considerably lowerin public two-year colleges, at $2,963 per year.1However, that’s not the entire cost of attending college. Add to that associated costs like room and board,books and supplies, transportation, and personal expenses, and you have provided yourself with a yearlybill that can run into tens of thousands of dollars.Naturally, not everyone has pockets that are large enough to support this kind of expense, no matter howworthy the cause. That’s why every year, many students resort to taking out loans to finance theireducation and end up piling up a huge debt by the time they graduate.College debt may seem like a necessary evil, but believe it or not, avoiding it is not as hard as it sounds.Taking stock of your resources and planning ahead is the key to avoiding college debt. If you’re on thethreshold of starting college, here are some tips on how to avoid college debt.Look for tuition financial aidAccording to College Board, most students receive some sort of financial aid, and this is what helps makecollege education remain within the reach of many families. Our federal government spends billions ofdollars every year in scholarships and grants for deserving and qualified college students. Though theamount of grants/scholarships varies, it can actually pay amounts up to the full tuition and fees of acollege education for qualified students, depending on the award.In addition to federal financial aid for those who qualify, state governments, professional bodies, militaryand individual colleges also run financial aid programs that students can take advantage of, if they qualify.Graduate earlyAnother means of avoiding college debt is to hasten your graduation. Just think about it: the less time youspend in college, the lower your cost will be. And how exactly does one graduate early, you may ask? Acouple of ways to graduate early from college are: • Taking Advanced Placement (AP) classes in high school to earn college credits. • Enrolling in accelerated degree programs that can be finished in less-than-normal completion time.Choose your college wiselyIt might be tempting to choose a college that’s thousands of miles away from home—after all, it maybeyour first brush with independence. But there are certain benefits of staying close to where you grew up.First, out-of-state students have to pay a surcharge for attending public four-year colleges and second,many students find it possible to cut down on college expenses like room and board by staying put at
  2. 2. home. It’s an option you should consider if money is really tight, because what’s important is that you getthe education you deserve, even if it means missing out on the whole “college experience.”Consider going onlineOnline courses provide yet another means of avoiding college debt. Not only do they turn out to be moreeconomical as compared to classroom-based programs, but online degree programs also often allowstudents to keep a full-time job and pay their way through college.You can choose a fully online school or take online classes from a brick-and-mortar college. As long asyour degree is earned from an accredited institution, most employers accept degrees from onlineinstitutions. Moreover, some employers provide tuition assistance to their employees, and you can usethis benefit to finance your attendance at a legitimate online degree program.Spend responsiblyStudent credit cards are a reality of modern-day college life, and even necessary to some extent. Buthaving this kind of spending power also means that you must learn to use it responsibly. Every year,college students pile up a huge credit card debt. When added to the already mounting debt from theirstudent loan, it can put them into a bad financial situation once they graduate.Therefore, it’s important not to be credit card–happy when paying your bills. As far as possible, keep it foremergency situations or big expenses, and use cash or a debit card to pay for your daily bills.You should also make sure that you pay your credit card bills on time, not just to avoid late payment feesand interest charges, but also to build a good credit history.Sources: 1.