Getting your degree is one of the most expensive endeavors you’ll encounter in life. However, it is also one of the most worthwhile investments. While most students graduate college with a massive amount of debt, it is possible to avoid this common problem. Fearful of starting my career with mountains of loans, I decided to try and finish law school in Boston with zero debt, so I developed an early game plan to avoid taking massive student loans.
Here are some tips I used to avoid graduation debt:
* Apply for federal aid! Federal aid is a fantastic way to earn the degree you need without racking up some serious debt. Anyone can apply for federal aid, and should do so early to ensure you get the money on time. Filling out your free application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is a simple and easy process that can open the door to great resources to help you achieve your dreams.
* Get a job! It may be difficult to balance school and work, but working part-time while in school is an incredible way to avoid the baggage of debt after graduation. This works especially well if you are attending an online university because you will have more time to both work and attend school in your off hours. Even just waitressing or working at the campus bookstore would supply you with extra money that could help offset the debt you may incur.
* Apply for scholarships and grants! Scholarships and grants are the best financial assistance options because they do not need to be paid back. There are many different types of scholarships and grants that can granted, so it’s important to do your research and apply to as many as possible. From academic performance-based scholarships to ethnic-based ones, there is a plethora of options available. The range of amounts varies greatly from scholarship to scholarship, but they are usually fairly generous.
* Enroll in work study programs! Work study programs allow students to work part-time in order to receive funds to pay for their schooling. This is a great option because you can even be employed in a job related to your program of study which could become a great advantage when you are applying for jobs after you graduate.
Utilize all, or a combination, of these tactics to help you minimize your students’ debts while in school.