How to Graduate College Debt Free

As the number of student loan debt continues to rise, the idea of graduating college debt free can seem like a fantasy. Unless you're wealthy, academically talented or athletically gifted, a full ride to college can seem impossible.

But if you investigate and try, can you actually try to graduate college debt free? Read below to find out.

Scholarships

Experts claim that millions of dollars of scholarships go unclaimed every year. Many students assume that they will not qualify for scholarships and do not take the time to apply.

Try searching for scholarships on FastWeb or look for ones pertaining to your field of study, region, minority status and more. Large companies will often offer various scholarships for students with decent grades.

Talk to your college counselor about the types of scholarships you might be a good candidate for. You never know what qualities they may see in you that you don't realize you have.

Work-Study

Many colleges offer work-study programs for students, but the availability of jobs can be limited. As soon as you find out what college you hope to attend, contact the financial aid office to ask about work-study jobs.

These jobs reimburse you in tuition and can be more rewarding than working part-time at the local pizzeria. If you don't land a work-study job, working as a resident advisor in a college dorm can take care of your room and board expenses – and more, depending on your school.

Always talk to as many people as you can about finding work on campus – you never know who will have the inside scoop.

High School Credit

Students who want to attend college without taking on student loans should load up their high school schedules. Instead of skating by senior year, they should focus on AP classes that will give them the option of receiving college credit.

Many colleges also have students take placement tests for subjects such as math, science and languages. By testing out of those basic prerequisites, you could earn credit without paying a cent to your college.

Community College

Since many high schools do not offer a wide variety of AP classes, some high school students attend community college classes on the side or during the summers to get more credit they can use for college.

Many even attend community college for two years to get their general education requirements before transferring to a university. Students who want to do this should ensure that their college will take their community college credit before signing up for classes.

According to The College Board, community college courses cost on average $2,713 per year while a public in-state college cost $7,605 year and a private university cost $27,293 each year. Attending community college for two years could save you between $10,000 and $50,000 depending on what kind of college you attend afterwards.

Student Loans

Students already know about taking out loans for their education, but many don't know that they can start paying back their loans while they're still in college.

If you do have to take out loans, you can put money you earn or receive during college toward the loans. People whose loans accrue interest during college can save money if they start paying back the principal while they're still receiving their education.

Even if you don't end up graduating entirely debt free, minimizing student loans will be one of the best things you can do for your future.

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