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Debt Free Degree

I can’t take credit for the catchy title “Debt Free Degree”.  That is the name of a book by Anthony Oneal.  A suggested read if you have kids that may be college bound.

Student loan debt in America is over $1.7 Trillion.  The average student loan balance is about $40k.  This is, in my opinion, a disaster.

I am a fan of considering options other than traditional college.  Trade schools, apprenticeships and the military are all fantastic options.   If you or yours are seriously considering college, some thoughts that will almost certainly reduce your college bill and may eliminate it all together:

1. Make a business decision.  Yes, college is a great experience – but you go for the future it provides, financially and otherwise.  You need to consider the decision in this framework.  Stated more directly, it does not make any sense to pay $200k for a degree that enables you to take a $40k/year job.  You need to understand the target salary and budget impact of your decision.

2. Choose the right school.  Today a 4 year private college can cost as much as $400k.  There are not a lot of graduating salaries that substantiate that kind of cost.  Consider some of the following to reduce this number by 80% or more.

a. Choose public over private schools.  You can get a quality education at a public school.

b. Choose in state rather than out of state schools.  They are significantly cheaper.

c. Start at a Community College.  A student can get through the first two years at a substantial cost saving for tuition, while living and or working at home. 

3.  Apply for scholarships.  A student should consider finding scholarships and grants as a part time job.  Colleges have long lists of potential funding, and small organizations in every town give away scholarships every year.

4.  Get a job.  Many think it is a bad idea to get a job while attending school – they are concerned their grades will suffer.  Studies have shown the opposite to be true.  Students working part time have a higher GPA on average than those that are not.

 

You can get an education without going into debt.  Start early, make business decisions and be willing to work.

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