College costs in the United States are soaring. It is no wonder the average college graduate in 2013 left school with more than $35,000 in total debt.
If you plan right, you can avoid this financial burden. There are a few strategies you can use to live debt-free in college.
1. Minimize your living expenses.
One way to avoid debt is to avoid spending too much money on your living expenses.
If you get a new car and a large, personal apartment, your monthly bills are going to be a lot more expensive than if you live with roommates and drive a used car. You should also try to avoid eating out, maintain a reasonable budget for clothes and look to buy used textbooks.
Avoid these large expenses now and save them for when you are working and can afford them.
2. Stick to a weekly budget.
College is a fun environment to be in, but it is easy to get carried away. Spending on parties, trips and vacations can really add up, and this is not something you can afford if you want to graduate debt-free.
Pick a reasonable amount you think you should spend each week based on your savings and income.
“Make it a goal to stay
within these spending limits.”
3. Get a part-time job.
While your studies should be your primary focus in school, it might be a good idea to get a part-time job as well.
If you work 10 to 20 hours a week at a part-time job, your earnings should be enough to cover most of your weekly living expenses. Then you can make up the rest of the money by working through the summer.
Check with your school’s student services department. They may have programs to set students up with part-time work during the year.
4. Search for scholarships.
There are scholarships throughout the country for college students, yet a large amount of this money goes unclaimed. Take the time to apply to every scholarship program you can find.
There are programs out there for both your tuition and college living expenses. The College Board and Sallie Mae are two organizations that list many of the available scholarships.
Don’t just apply to the large scholarships because a couple of small scholarships can add up. By putting in this extra work, you will benefit from collecting some of this free money.
5. Get help from the community and employers.
If you are an active member of a church or community center, the group may be willing to contribute to your education. Many of these groups help students with education costs or are willing to sponsor special trips, like a study abroad program.
In exchange, they would ask you to share your college experiences with the group and continue volunteering.
Employers may also be willing to help pay for your education, especially for graduate degrees. If you are willing to make a commitment saying you will work for the company after you complete school, they may be willing to help pay for your degree.
Companies see it as an investment because you will being working for them with a variety of skills.
Getting through college debt-free is not easy, but it is possible. By following these steps, you will put yourself in the best financial position possible for when you graduate.