How To Graduate College Without Amassing Debt

by Chad Agrawal

College students are excited about the possibility of acquiring their diploma and eagerly anticipate entering the workforce to earn top salaries. Unfortunately, they are hardly prepared for what awaits them at the other end of their educational journey—thousands of dollars of debt along with a hefty dose of financial shock.

Student loans are a necessity for many aspiring college students; especially since tuition costs continue to rise. The Student Debt Project reported in 2011 that one out of three undergrads possess student debt.

Interestingly, one-third somehow manages to escape the financial clutches of college unscathed. While some financially free graduates may have hailed from affluent families, others found ways to pay their high tuition costs and leave college with nothing but their diplomas. Thankfully, by assessing the situation and preparing for the future, aspiring college students can reduce their financial load and avoid decades of monthly loan payments.

Weighing the Options

Many undergrads attend community colleges for the first two years and finish their degrees at their school of choice. Community colleges not only cost less to attend, but some also guarantee admission into four-year institutions if the students maintain an acceptable GPA. Online colleges are also a popular choice. Many offer accredited programs that cost much less than traditional degrees.

Tuition at state public colleges is also significantly less than private universities and most offer solid degree programs. Students attend state schools as undergrads and save money to attend the school of their choice while earning their master’s degree.

Preparation is Crucial

Students who prepare for higher education at least two years before they attend college will have a better chance at achieving debt-free, post-college status. As early as tenth grade, high school students can start with self-assessment exercises to focus their passions and desires for their future. By researching their career options, they will avoid spending unnecessary money on degrees that may not reward them with the career path they expect.

High school students can also research scholarships and grants and prepare for the qualifications months before the application due dates. With so many scholarships programs available at the national and local level, even small monetary awards can add up to big savings. In addition, many high schools offer AP classes where students can save money by earning college credits that transfer to their degree programs.

Jobs During College

Students attend college hoping their future salaries will allow them the freedom to pay off their loans without additional burden. Yet, with today’s unsettling job climate and the high cost of college tuition, aspiring students are finding ways to earn more money while attending school to alleviate future financial burden.

Ambitious students are working part-time during school and full-time during the summer to offset their tuition costs. The road to acquiring a college degree will be more difficult for the working student, but the future reward will make up for the hard work. Living at home can also save students thousands of dollars in rent and board fees.

Although these practices may not guarantee an entirely debt-free educational experience, they will relieve some of the financial burden and enable the student to be better prepared to enter their future with a positive financial outlook.


College students eager to graduate and enter the workforce are rarely prepared for the debt that comes from borrowing to pay for a college education. Article courtesy of Southern New Hampshire University's Online College Degree Program

This post was written by Chad Agrawal

Chad Agrawal is the founder of CCTS, helping students transfer from community college to Ivy League, tier 1 or anywhere else by following this community college guide.

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