Tips for Graduating from College Debt-Free

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Posted on 09/17/2010

For the first time ever, the amount of school debt held by Americans surpassed the amount of credit card debt. Graduates may be earning their degrees, but it’s coming a high cost. If you’d like to finish college with both a diploma and financial freedom, here are some tips for graduating debt-free.


Start College in High School - Taking Advanced Placement Calculus while your friends are sleeping in study hall may be a bummer. But AP courses not only increase the likelihood that you’ll graduate from college in four years, they also improve chances for scholarships. About 30 AP courses are offered, helping high schoolers earn college credit.


Start at a Two-Year School - The first year or two of college is typically spent completing pre-requisite courses. These are classes that can easily be taken at a public two-year college at a much lower cost. According to CollegeBoard.com, the average price of a year of tuition and fees at a public two-year school is $2,544 on average. That’s an average savings of $4,476 compared to a four-year public university.


Attend a Public In-State School - Private schools are great, but if you really want to get a bargain attend a public in-state school. Tuition costs just over $7,000 a year on average. Out-of-state students pay an extra $11,528, according to CollegeBoard.com. And if you go private, you’ll fork over nearly $20,000 more a year on average. That means a four-year education at a public school will cost just over $28,000. That won’t quite cover a year and a half at a private school.


Get Professional Help - All In Education co-founder Katy Lander says she was able to secure more than $80,000 in free money to pay for her education. Now she’s helping others find funds for school. For less than $300 you can get her playbook which includes access to little-known scholarships and tips.


Apply for Financial Aid - According to statistics, a whopping $126 billion in financial aid was handed out during the 2008-2009 school year. The average full-time undergraduate student scored $10,000, including $5,000 that didn’t need to be paid back.


Find a Part-time Job - Studies keep students busy, but working a part-time job is a great way to offset costs of books, food and rent. Plenty of college students maintain good grades while also holding down a job. That way you won’t be as likely to pull out plastic to help make ends meet.


By Alison Storm


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