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You Can Graduate College Debt-Free

Feb 27, 2008
Is it possible to graduate college debt-free? Unless you're from a wealthy family, this may seem like an impossibility. But it can be done, if you follow the advice in this article. But be forewarned, it's not easy. And it can't be done unless you're willing to think strategically and work hard.

Before you go out and start applying for student loans, you should pursue financing that doesn't have to be paid back - i.e., grants and scholarships. It is definitely a good idea to work and study hard in high school. If you have good grades, you should qualify for some kind of scholarship at your school that will at least partially offset your tuition. Another area that can help you with scholarships is your extracurricular activities. Like it or not, you need to think of your high school career in terms of building a resume. The better your resume, the better your chance of getting scholarships. The more things you can do to get your tuition bill down to start with, the easier it will be to figure out how to fund the rest of it.

There are a number of different need-based grants, such as Pell grants, SMART grants, and SEOG grants. There are grants provided by the federal government and grants provided by the states. If you know where you are going to school, you should probably call or visit your school and ask for information about grants and other student aid. You can also find a lot of information by searching online.

The first step in applying for financial aid, such as grants, is filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. The FAFSA has a little over 100 questions that help the government and institutions get a good picture of your financial and academic standing. A lot of financial documentation is required to complete the form, so you should give yourself plenty of time. To make things as easy as possible, you should use the FAFSA4Caster, which is an online application that helps you estimate your eligibility for federal student aid. The information you enter in the FAFSA4Caster can also be ported to the real application, which will save you some time.

If you're serious about graduating from college debt-free, then you want to avoid student loans. However, the FAFSA will also help you get student loans if need be. Many private student loans offer very good interest rates, so it's definitely an option.

There is a growing trend in the U.S. of high schools offering classes to students to let them earn college credit before they even enter credit. This is FREE education that will reduce the number of hours you need to take in college to get your degree. You should definitely take advantage of this opportunity if it is offered by your school. The fewer hours of classes you need in college, the less money you'll need to pay tuition.

If after applying for grants and scholarships, and getting as many credit hours as you can in advance, you still need money, there's always the old fashioned way to get it: working for it. Possibly the most popular way for college students to make good money is waiting tables in restaurants. In a good restaurant, you could make up to $20 per hour or more. If you're not the waiting type, you may need to think out of the box. Any job will do, but to pay tuition and living expenses, and still have some money left over, you will probably need to make more than you can make working for minimum wage. Some possibilities include buying and selling items on eBay or offering tutoring services.

Our final tip is to graduate early. You don't have to spend four years to get your degree (and certainly not five or six, as some students like to do). If you take a heavy load every semester, you can graduate in three or three and a half years. Obviously, the fewer semesters you have to pay for, the less you'll have to spend. Sure, you'll be working hard and may not be able to party with your friends as much. But if you're serious about graduating from college debt-free, then you'll do what you have to do.
About the Author
Student Loan Financial Group makes life easier for students with its Quick-To-Learn private student loans product. Our online application only takes about 15 minutes, and you get an answer within a week.
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