The average student loan debt for the class of 2016 was $37,117. The average student loan payment is $351 per month according to Student Loan Hero. In 2015 71% of college graduates had student loans and that number increased by 6% for 2016.
If you attend a school that costs $50,000 per year, you’re going to be making student loan payments for 10 or 20 years after graduation.
But going to a community college your first two years can add up to substantial savings. 41% of first-time freshman students attend a community college. According to the College Board, the average annual tuition for Community College is $3,430 compared to $9,410 for a four-year public school.
You’ve heard jokes about how smart people don’t attend a community college, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. You’ll take the same introductory level classes and use the same textbooks as those in a four-year school. If you attend a four-year school after community college, your degree will be from the four-year college.
Another thing to consider is that only about 20 percent of students in the United States don’t change their major at least once during their college career. The average student changes their major at least three times.
People tell you not to worry about college debt because you need a degree to get a good job. But you also need to consider the future of your finances. How are you going to buy a car or a house if you have the burden of school loans for the next 20 years?
What are some ways to pay for college without going into debt?
There are scholarships available for a variety of qualifications, not just grades, and sports. These include cultural and community experiences, background, location, the area of study, and various accomplishment
Your high school is the best place to begin your search for scholarships, but there are also additional resources online. Collegeboard.com and Fastweb.com both require you to create a profile to access scholarship information. Niche.com and Moolahspot.com are also good sites to find additional funds.
When you apply for financial aid, make sure you indicate that you are interested in the Federal Work-Study program. This program allows full or part-time students at community colleges and four-year universities to work. Student employment offers help covering your expenses as well as job experience.
Many companies offer tuition reimbursement, and some have plans to help you pay for all or most of your education. They all have different requirements, so you need to do some research to find the best option for you.
Starbucks has a program that covers all tuition for a four-year, online degree from Arizona State University. The cost of tuition at this university is about $15,000 per year.
According to U.S. News & World Report, ASU is ranked fifth in the nation for “producing the best-qualified graduates.” The professors who teach at the campus also teach the online courses. So you can be confident that you’re receiving a quality education.
Full-time and part-time employees can participate in this program. The University has six different start dates available to students. Once you get your degree, you are not obligated to continue working at Starbucks.
Chipotle offers an educational assistance program that allows employees to earn a degree for as little as $250 per year. Other benefits include 401k, paid time off, a healthcare package that includes eye and dental, bonuses and free meals.
Other companies you might consider are UPS, Chrysler, Home Depot, and Verizon.
Grants are for students who demonstrate financial need. Thes funds are available through federal and state government, private organizations and some universities. If your family earnings are less than $180,000, the federal government will likely cover all or part of your tuition for a community college. To receive this benefit you have to claim the American Opportunity Tax Credit on your taxes.
If your family income is under $50,000, you should qualify for a Pell grant up to $5815. To find out if your eligible for financial aid you must first fill out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form.
For 2017 students who are seniors this fall will be able to apply for financial aid for college in 2018-2019 by submitting the FAFSA in October 2017 using income tax information from their parents’ 2016 tax returns. You can find more information at www.fafsa.gov.
Education Without A Degree
If you just want to learn, and you aren’t concerned with obtaining a degree, there are many free online courses available.
iTunes U offers resources for free educational content that can be download from Apple’s iTunes Store to a computer or mobile devices. Harvard and Stanford Universities distribute world-class educational content through this platform.
YouTube has free lectures from all the major universities as well as TED Talks and information from the Smithsonian Institute.
Coursera and Udemy are free apps that offer online courses from top universities. Duolingo is another free app that can help you learn a second language.
The cost of a college education and uncertain job prospects can leave you feeling overwhelmed. But even if you don’t qualify for scholarships or grants, it’s still possible to obtain your degree without debt.