There are several ways to get a degree without going broke, which is good news if you don't want to graduate college with a mountain of student debt. A college degree can be the ticket to a better job opportunity and a higher salary. But unfortunately, there's a cost to higher education. Rather than let the cost of tuition scare you away from a college campus, here are seven ways to get a degree without going broke.
1. Keep Your Grades up
Maintaining high grades is one of the best ways to get a degree without going broke. If you maintain a high GPA in high school, you might qualify for scholarships or grants, which don't have to be repaid. And if you keep your grades up in college, this can open the door to a graduate school scholarship.
2. Go to a Public University
According to a 2011 College Board report, students at a four-year private school on average paid $38,589 for tuition, fees and room and board. However, students attending an in-state public university paid just over $17,000. If you need to apply for student loans, but you don't want to deal with large student debt, attend an in-state public school.
3. Commute to Campus
Living at home with your parents and commuting to campus is another way to save money. As a commuter, you'll only pay tuition and fees. You'll avoid the cost of room and board, which can significantly reduce the amount of student aid you'll need each semester.
4. Buy Used Books Online
You may prefer purchasing brand new books, but as someone who once spent $500 for books for just one semester, you're better off buying used or getting digital versions of books, if available. Another approach is sharing books with a fellow classmate who has a similar class schedule. I know a couple of people who shared college books with a roommate or friend. It worked because they had a different class and study schedule.
5. Pay Your Way through School
With a student loan, it's easy to forget about your student debt. However, you can reduce the amount of your student loan by making in school payments. Your first payment with a federal loan isn't due until 6 to 9 months after graduation. But if you’re working while in school, periodic payments to your student loan lender can knock down this balance.
6. Don’t Defer Debt
Deferments and forbearance are practical solutions if you cannot afford your student loan payments after graduation. But if you have money to start making payments, don't defer or ask for a forbearance. In some instances, interest continues to accrue during the forbearance period, which increases your total balance.
7. Only Take the Classes You Need
Student loan debt can quickly increase when you start taking courses outside your curriculum. Understandably, you might be interested in other subjects. But if you decide to take additional courses “for fun,” pay for these out of your pocket.
Getting a college degree is expensive, and the cost of tuition increases just about every year. You might not be able to avoid student loan debt, but if you make wise decisions you can graduate with the least amount of debt possible. What are other practical ways to get a college degree without going broke?