As far as investments go, college is one of the best ones you can possibly bank on. The trick is not to graduate under piles of debt. There are several strategies to help you tackle the costs of college without depending solely on those cumbersome student loans.
1. Do not stray too far from home: Every year, there are thousands of prospective college students seeking that coveted collegiate experience. Without the limitless financial resources to go to college out of state, it is not worth going into debt just to move to that school away from home. A student can still gain all of the best characteristics of the college experience nearer to home.
2. Know your career choice: This tip is so simple, yet often overlooked. College is an educational experience with a purpose of preparing you for a potential career after graduating. Therefore, if you are not sure of your chosen career path, do not meander through college paying for courses you do not need for a occupation you will never have.
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3. Work if you can: If you are lucky enough to easily schedule your classes in such a way to allow for part time work, then you are half way there. By working in your spare time, you will be able to supplement your college experience without the use if pesky loans to weigh you down. However, it is important to be careful as to how much work you take on. The last thing you want is for your grades to suffer.
4. Explore financial assistance options: Certain employers often offer to pay for some or even all of the costs of a college education. Be sure to explore this idea with your boss before putting yourself into debt. Also, check into internship programs that offer the same benefits.
5. Never underestimate community college: Whether your intentions are to graduate with a four year degree or a two year certificate, community college could be a significant finance saver. Take full advantage of your local community college by signing up for as many of your required curriculum at the community college. Most general education classes are offered there and can save you exponentially on your limited funds.
6. Always apply for financial aid: The application is free and cannot possibly hurt you. It takes little time and the potential pay-off can be quite substantial. Fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and you may just be surprised with a tuition free education. Depending on your circumstances, you could very well qualify for grants and at the very least some rock bottom low interest loans. However, it is advisable to avoid loans if at all possible so as not to sink into debt.
7. Join every grant and essay contest you find: Though it may seem like a long shot, it is in fact the beauty of these scholarship contests. Many prospective students feel it is a waste of time to enter these scholarship contests, which surprisingly leaves fewer applicants and a higher chance for you to benefit. There are many cool contests for students to win extra cash.
8. Save on housing costs: Your best bet is to steer clear of the dorm housing offered by your college. Surprisingly, these tend to be more expensive than other alternatives. By living just a couple miles off campus, you can save immensely on housing. Besides the costs of housing, living on campus is quite expensive when it comes to your meals. So learn how to bargain shop for groceries and either find a great studio apartment nearby or look for a roommate.
9. Don’t waste funds on new textbooks: Simply put, invest in used or rented textbooks.
10. Quality education can come from anywhere: Typically, it does not matter whatsoever where you received your degree. What matters is that you earned it. Therefore, do not overspend on your education just for a namesake.