Unless you have been living under a rock for the past 10 years, you know that student loan debt is crippling the personal progress of many young people in America. That’s not to say there isn’t a healthy amount of student debt that one can take on, or that college shouldn’t be sought out by people who can’t afford to pay every cent out of pocket. But it is true that America’s relationship with college is changing. Students are demanding more value for the cost, with an eye on specific career destinations following graduation. There are plenty of ways to be able to afford a relationship which checks off these boxes, but it may require going through unconventional paths to get it. Here are three methods.
- Apply to a Lot of Schools. If you are a good student in high school, apply to lots of schools. Apply to schools which are on the high and low side of your educational aspirations, and don’t neglect local and state institutions. If you make the most of an educational opportunity, it will pay off for you much more than slacking your way through four years of a top-tier institution. See what financial aid you are offered, and make your final choice based on economic reasons. If school A isn’t your first choice, but they offer 80% of your costs in scholarships, you’ll do better than if you went to School B which offers nothing, even if it was your first choice.
- Investigate Online Schooling. Legitimate online schools are growing in number and quality. Knowing that brick and mortar institutions offer students little in the way of competency and opportunity, in many situations, the market is being flooded with online models which give people the information without all of the expensive trappings. Try to find online resources that can allow you to complete your education quickly, and with specific career destinations in mind upon graduation. It’s not the classic liberal arts model, but it’s one that could get you through college without tons of debt.
- Apply for Scholarships a Year in Advance, or More. If you really can afford college no other way, and you are determined to achieve a high education level without paying for it for the rest of your life, start applying for lots of scholarships as early as possible. There are many scholarship programs all around the country, which apply to students of all types. There are many smaller scholarships offered by local business as well as those offered by large corporations, such as Burger King. Find them, work at them, and win as many as possible. You will fail many times, but even if you win a few, this can make all the difference in paying for an affordable, but valuable, education.
As you can see, it’s not easy to get into college without depending on student loans. But it is possible. It starts by being willing to work harder than most people. If you put forth the effort, you will be exerting more effort the 90% of other people. If you really push, you may be able to distinguish yourself above 95% of others, or more. This will help you get into college for an affordable price, or free.