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    Debt Free Degree

    September 22, 2021 | Staff Writers

    Debt Free Degree
    Degree Finder
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    The debt associated with attending college is almost certainly a concern for students and for their parents when parents pay for their child to attend college. Sources show that there is a recent increase in the amount of debt owed by college graduates in the U.S., with little signs of reprieve in the near future. The thought of graduating with a debt free degree sometimes becomes overshadowed by the reality of the costs associated with student loans and other issues that result in increasing debt.

    Statistics show the severity of mounting student debt and the consequences of the issue. A 2017 report from ACA International indicated that student loan consumer debt had reached nearly $1.4 trillion, at the time that the organization published the article. Forbes published an article in February 2020, which indicated that student loan debt had reached $1.6 trillion. The significant increase in debt in less than three years shows the seriousness of the situation, along with the fact that college students continue to graduate with significant debt.

    It is possible to achieve the dream of a debt free degree. Students just have to be savvy enough to realize what the best options are to accomplish this, and to then implement a plan that best works for them and their future. Earning a debt free degree may be hard work that requires dedication, focus, and planning, but the rewards will likely last a lifetime.

    The Issue of Student Debt

    The issue of outstanding student loan debt is often referred to as a ‘crisis.’ Student loan debt now ranks second among the highest debt categories, with only mortgage debt ranking as a higher consumer debt category. The seriousness of graduating with debt is further substantiated by an article published on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) site. A point is made that some students graduate with a degree and debt, while other students just have the debt, even if they do not complete their degree.

    A primary issue leading to rising student debt is likely the rising cost of attending college. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reveals that between the years 2007-2008 and 2017-2018, the costs of undergraduate tuition, room and board, and required fees rose by 31 percent at public colleges and universities. There was also a significant increase in the costs of attending college at private, non-profit institutions.

    There are more than 42 million borrowers that owe less than $100,000, and more than three million borrowers that owe more than $100,000 in student loan debt. That debt follows the individual borrower, and can have far-reaching effects on the day-to-day life of the borrower.

    The Burdensome Consequences of Student Debt

    The consequences of getting into debt because of financing an education is something that many students likely do not understand until they actually experience those consequences. The fact is that there both short-term and long-term consequences of the debt associated with a college education.

    Sources show that having more student debt is directly associated with experiencing difficulties obtaining a loan in the years after college, and affects the potential for home ownership, or even receiving approval to rent an apartment or home. Former college students that leave school with debt also are likely to have higher rates of bankruptcy compared to graduates with little to no debt.

    Loans that go into default cause additional hardships for borrowers. Students that leave school with significant debt sometimes work more than one job just to try and stay one step ahead of collectors.

    There are other aspects of having student debt that are likely not considered when looking at the consequences of not having a debt free degree. A Psychology Today contributor discussed the fact that student debt and rising tuition costs sometimes affects the mental health of students. Psychologists, and sometimes students themselves, report on feelings of panic, anxiety, depression, self-doubt or embarrassment directly associated with student debt.

    Earn a Debt Free Degree to Avoid Insurmountable Student Debt

    Earning a college degree does not mean that a student has to live a life of poverty. There are a number of measures to take to avoid or minimize student debt without experiencing the potentially long-lasting consequences.

    It is important to understand that overwhelming student debt does not exclusively affect students that earn a graduate degree. The financial and emotional consequences of student debt affects students across all degree levels, whether a student earns an associate’s or bachelor’s degree or if the student earns a master’s or doctoral degree.

    Consider attending a school within your own state. In-state tuition is often less expensive compared to the tuition for non-residents. It is important to know that some schools offer lower tuition for students that reside within a certain county or region, but charge higher tuition for students residing outside that area, even if the students reside within the state.

    Plan your budget before you start college. Know where to find student discounts and use coupons at restaurants, grocery stores and for other types of purchases. Use public transportation or walk instead of driving a car. The cost of student parking alone adds up very quickly, particularly after adding the cost of parking to the cost of vehicle maintenance and gas.

    Find an affordable housing arrangement if you plan to live off-campus. Sharing an apartment with a roommate significantly reduces the cost of rent, utilities, and other housing costs.

    Carefully Consider the School to Save Money

    Attending a big-name school does not necessarily mean that you will have a lucrative career or even get an entry-level job at a big-name company. Employers likely care more about your knowledge and skills, rather than if you graduated from an expensive, well-known school. Consider the significant savings of attending a smaller or lesser-known school that offers the degree program that matches your interests and career goals, over the expensive costs of attending an elite school.

    Graduating from an affordable school does not mean that your degree is worth any less than a degree from an elite school. Students that attend lesser-known schools benefit from having the same curriculum, the same faculty support, and other resources that are similar to those at an elite school. Smaller schools also offer the same or similar school or program accreditations as the more expensive schools.

    Check for Accreditation

    It is the student’s responsibility to understand all admissions requirements, tuition costs and fees. It is also the student’s responsibility to research accreditation before applying to a particular college or program.

    Make sure that the school has proper accreditation. Students that graduate from a school that does not have proper accreditation potentially discover that they cannot get a job in their chosen field. No student wants to pay the cost of attending college only to discover that the school or program does not have the proper accreditation.

    Prior Learning Assessments Offer College Savings

    Engage in the Prior Learning Assessments (PLA) option in high school and earn college credits while still attending high school. The type of Prior Learning Assessment varies among different high schools, and potentially includes portfolio submissions or advanced placement courses, among other options. Taking advantage of this option can cut several thousand dollars off the cost of attending college.

    Credit for prior learning is not just for high school students. Many colleges recognize that today’s college students are often adult learners seeking to advance their career or that want to change their career to another profession. Schools offer credits for prior work experience or credits for meeting other criteria.

    Earning an Online Degree Often Offers Significant Savings

    Completing requirements for a degree in an online format often saves thousands of dollars over the cost of completing the degree in the traditional classroom. Students do not have to worry about the costs associated with transportation, parking fees, meals on campus, or some other mandatory costs.

    Online programs typically have the same curriculum as on-campus programs. Faculty members that provide instruction on-campus provide instruction to online students. Online students have access to a variety of resources and tools that helps them progress through their chosen program.

    Students that pursue an online degree often have the advantage of completing any required internship, project or clinical hours at an agreed-upon facility in their own area. Schools make arrangements with non-resident students to fulfill this or other requirements. This saves on the cost of traveling to the school to meet this requirement.

    Schools often feature significant savings on the cost of tuition for their online programs, compared to the tuition rate for face-to-face courses. Consider the tuition rate when a student pursues a Bachelor of Science in Information Sciences and Technology at Pennsylvania State University. The tuition calculator shows that a student that enrolls to attend one-credit hour of instruction at a campus location pays $1,458 per credit hour. The tuition calculator reveals that a student that enrolls in one-credit hour of instruction at the online World Campus pays $576 per credit hour. The $882 per-credit-hour savings between brick-and-mortar and online instruction likely goes a long way for many students seeking to graduate with a debt free degree.

    Lamar University is another example of a school where students pay lower tuition when earning an online degree compared to attending classes in person. The tuition for the online undergraduate criminal justice program is $273 per credit hour. Enroll in the traditional on-campus program and tuition is an estimated $436 per credit hour.

    Transfer Associate Degree Credits to a Four-Year Degree Program

    Most schools accept transfer credits from community colleges or other schools that offer associate degree programs. Transferring these credits potentially saves thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of dollars over the cost of enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program without any transfer credits.

    Individual schools and programs have different rules regarding transfer credits. This means that students need to understand the policies of a particular school before enrolling in a program in hopes of transferring previously-earned credits.

    Enroll in an Accelerated Program and Graduate Debt Free

    An accelerated program features the same level of high-quality instruction that is delivered in a traditional program format. The difference is that the courses are shorter in length than the traditional course length. The courses are usually fast-paced, which requires the discipline of completing assignments and exams on time.

    Earning an accelerated degree often means that a student graduates as much as a year earlier than if the student completed course requirements in the traditional course sequence format. Consider the savings that goes towards the goal of graduating debt free when you choose to earn an accelerated degree.

    Financing the Cost of a College Education

    Financing a college education is no easy task with the rising cost of tuition and other expenses. Prospective students understand the need to finance their college education to gain the cutting-edge, in-demand skills to enhance their career opportunities. Technology is ever-changing, requiring students to stay up-to-date to meet tomorrow’s needs today.

    These options go a long way towards financing college when students meet eligibility requirements.

    Apply for Grants

    Students often qualify for grants to finance part of their education. Grants are no longer strictly reserved for the lowest-income students.

    Check out the various grants available and apply for the grants well in advance. Talk to an academic advisor to see if you meet the income requirements and the other eligibility requirements for specific grants.

    Apply for Scholarships

    Do you think that scholarships are only awarded to the super-talented student with the highest GPA or to the student with the highest exam scores? There are both public and private scholarships available for students of all backgrounds. Schools often have information about lesser-known scholarships.

    Each type of scholarship has its own eligibility requirements. The first requirement is to make sure that you submit the scholarship application on time, which is likely several months in advance of the start of the school year.

    Speak to your employer about scholarship information because many employers offer scholarships. These scholarships are not reserved only for the most senior employees. Check the requirements for applying for a scholarship and make sure that you properly complete the application.

    Take Advantage of Employer Tuition Reimbursement

    There are many employers that offer partial or full tuition reimbursement for employees that take certain college courses or that enroll in a degree program that is related to their role within the company or agency. Some employers reserve tuition reimbursement programs only for full-time employees, while other employers offer tuition reimbursement to both full-time and part-time employees.

    Individual employers typically have other requirements which determines eligibility and the amount of the tuition reimbursement.

    Work Study Reduces Student Debt

    Work Study is a federally-funded program that provides certain jobs for eligible students. Students that demonstrate financial need are potentially eligible to work part-time at the school where they attend college.

    Some schools have agreements with local employers to offer work study jobs to eligible students that apply for the program at the

    office of the college.

    Military Service Reduces College Debt

    Many schools offer tuition discounts, reduced fees or other savings on the cost of attending college to members of the military. Although some schools restrict the savings to students that are active duty military personnel, other schools extend the discount and savings to spouses, other dependents, and to veterans of the U.S. Military.

    Use your G.I. Bill or other military benefits to help pay for your college education. Graduate debt free when you also apply for scholarships or grants reserved specifically for students that are members of the military.

    More Ways to Earn a Debt Free Degree

    It is possible to graduate from college debt-free or with very little debt. Choose an affordable school that offers programs that match your career interests rather than choosing a school just because of its name.

    Consider a savings plan to help you afford college. Keep track of your spending and your debt on an ongoing basis.

    Consider taking more than the minimum number of credits each term to shorten the time that you spend in school.

    Renting textbooks rather than buying them offers a significant savings each term. Check the campus bookstore or online sites for textbooks or other required course materials at a reduced cost.

    Rely on trusted sources to provide comprehensive information on graduating debt free.

    How You Can Earn A Debt-Free College Degree

    In this day and age, it can be difficult to compete in the workforce without a college degree. Unfortunately, many people struggle to access higher education. Many factors can cause this struggle, including pre-existing personal or professional commitments. For many people, though, the cost of college is the biggest barrier when pursuing higher education. Although they know that a degree will ultimately improve their odds of getting a well-paying job in their preferred field, they also know that the financial investment of going to college can impact them for the rest of their lives.

    Not everyone has the means to afford higher education. Student loans allow many people who would otherwise be unable to afford it to pursue higher education. These loans also come at a price. Most people who take student loans believe that they can pay them off quickly after graduation. In reality, they can take decades to pay off a hefty student loan balance. Over this time, they accumulate interest, meaning that the final payment will be far higher than the actual cost of your degree. 

    The cost of higher education continues to rise. Nearly all students in the United States now graduate with student debt. For many, this can be a serious issue and the debt can be significant. When you’re trying to get a degree and get ahead in the world, it can be counterintuitive to take on a lot of debt. If you take on too much debt, your degree can end up setting you backward instead of forwards. Instead of profiting from the increased salary higher education tends to provide you with, your income can end up going to loan repayments. 

    Graduating from university with high student debt can make your life stressful and financially challenging. The good news is that it is still possible to get a degree without going bankrupt. It just takes careful financial planning, the pursuit of affordable colleges, some financial aid, and a little bit of luck. By selecting your school carefully, budgeting well, and using scholarships and bursaries, you can reduce your education costs.

    What It Means To Graduate Debt-Free

    Before getting into the good stuff, it is probably worth getting some scary statistics out of the way to ensure that you have an accurate and complete understanding of the growing debt crisis that students are facing across the country. Don’t get too worried as we list the numbers because the good news will quickly follow.

    Here are the cold hard facts: In 2019, a study determined that 70% of students graduate college with debt, which might not be a huge surprise. However, note that this was not always the case. Just decades ago, far fewer students graduated with debt. Also, the sheer size of this debt is somewhat shocking. Since 2010, the total federal loan debt in the United States has doubled and now sits somewhere between 1.54 and 1.6 trillion dollars. That’s right, trillion dollars – that wasn’t a typo. It’s kind of hard to imagine that kind of money is even floating around. 

    College debt has been rising steadily for several decades, and this rise directly correlates to the rising cost of college itself. The fact is that college has become immensely more expensive over the years. In fact, in the past two decades, the cost of tuition and housing has risen 68% at four-year schools. Over half of this increase occurred between 2008 and 2018. If you go back a little further to 1988, the increase is about 200%. 

    Tuition is also increasing rapidly, that’s not the only issue. As any student knows, on average, tuition makes up less than half of the cost of college. Though the dollar figure is usually the largest, the small fees and living costs add up to a far greater amount. At two-year colleges, tuition typically makes up less than  30% of the overall cost. The rest of the cost consists of living expenses, textbooks, and additional fees. In contrast, funding for students has decreased since 2008, which means that not only is the cost itself rising but that the funding provided to students is not enough to account for this cost. 

    Students justify taking on huge amounts of debt by believing that they can pay that debt off in just a few years after graduating and getting a job. And, who can blame them? Taking large loans is normal and expected and the first job students get out of college usually pays much more than jobs they’ve held previously. However, for many students, this debt is not quickly paid off and becomes a multi-decade problem. Unfortunately, for many of these students, going to college is not possible without taking on loans. 

    When possible, students graduating from college debt-free is preferable to graduating with loans hanging over your head. Being considered debt-free at graduation means that you have graduated without student loans, not that you have taken zero loans. It just means that if you have taken any loans, you pay them off before graduation. Most students who graduate debt-free are in a far better position embarking on the next chapter in their life and entering the workforce. It’s easier to look for the right job, get an apartment or house, travel, or enjoy a less stressful life. 

    Some of the disadvantages of student debt might seem obvious. On the other hand, some are easily overlooked. For one thing, many people do not consider how heavily student loans accrue interest. Accruing interest means that the longer you take to pay your loans off, the more money you end up spending. Generally speaking, the students who have less money actually end up paying more for school. It also means that student debt grows considerably over time, which is one of the reasons student debt is such a struggle for so many people.

    Many graduates with student debt end up using a large portion of their salary to pay off this debt and interest. The graduate is unable to allocate money to savings plans, retirement, or housing, which can mean that the cost of other things also increases – for instance, a payment plan on a car might increase the overall cost by a third. If a worker must rent instead of putting a down payment on a house, their money steadily decreases. Also, student loans have monthly payments. If these payments are missed, the student defaults. These defaulted payments can ruin somebody’s credit. With bad credit, it is difficult to buy, or even rent, a house. It is also difficult to get credit cards, make financial arrangements, and even has implications at work. 

    It can be very stressful to have high student debt, leading to mental, physical, and social problems for many people. Being stressed out about student debt can easily cause issues with careers, friendships, relationships, and personal growth. Therefore, it is best to avoid student loans when you can and pay them off in their entirety as quickly as possible when they are unavoidable.

    How To Avoid Student Loans

    Student loan forgiveness is brought up often around election time. However, as yet, there has been a minimal movement towards the forgiveness of student debt. As a result, the best way to graduate debt-free is to avoid student loans altogether. Of course, for most people, this is not always possible. However, going through the basics of avoiding student loans can be very helpful even to those who borrow a certain amount of money. Reducing the amount that you borrow as much as possible is one of the best things you can do for your financial future.

    Sometimes avoiding student loans means rethinking your choices. It is worth taking a look at some of the lower-cost schools out there. For example, community colleges often offer two-year degrees. These programs are not only shorter, but they also come at a much lower price than a traditional undergraduate degree. Options like community colleges also have many other benefits. In many cases, a community college degree sets you up for a better and more immediate job.

    Though schools and parents often try to funnel all students into four-year degrees, it is important to recognize that this is not always the right path. As the trillion-dollar debt figure indicates, it can be a hard path to go down. For some, a four-year college is right – and there are ways to pursue a traditional undergraduate degree without accruing ridiculous debt – and for others, it simply isn’t. For that reason, it’s worth looking at all of the options available to you.  

    Here’s a helpful guide to finding affordable college options: 

    • Look at state schools. Often, state schools offer tuition rates to in-state residents that are far lower than those for out of state schools. For instance, Florida State University charges residents about $500 less per credit than out of state students. Many other schools offer similar discounts, which can end up saving you tens of thousands of dollars. There is a comprehensive list of state universities on Wikipedia
    • Look at funding options. There are a lot of different ways to secure financial aid for attending university. The most common way is applying for scholarships, bursaries, grants, or employer recompensation. These funding opportunities tend to be offered by universities, private and public organizations, and government bodies at the local, state, and federal levels. Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for multiple funding streams. Some schools offer far more in funding than other schools. As a result, it is always a good idea to look at the scholarships and bursaries section of a school’s website when considering an application.
    • Look at community colleges. Generally speaking, community colleges are cheaper than traditional four-year degree programs. They also tend to be shorter, more flexible, and do not usually have the same intensity. They also allow you to enter the workforce directly and far more quickly. For many people, a two-year community college degree is a better way to enter the workforce. Community colleges also offer transfer credits, which means that you can begin your degree in community college and transfer to a four-year degree. As community college tends to be cheaper than university, this can be a great way to cut down costs. 

    Working while you are in school is another way to avoid student loans. Often, schools have certain positions available on campus. These might include library assistants, security positions, study hall monitors, teaching assistants, or research assistants. Many of these positions are made for people who are also full-time students, which means that they can be less obstructive than an unrelated job. 

    Scholarships are one of the best ways to fund your degree. These grants are merit-based and tend to be for high achievement in a particular area. Often, students receive scholarships for excellence in academic work, athletic competition, or community service. By pairing a more affordable educational institution with scholarships, it is possible to pursue higher education at a low cost. 

    How To Apply For Scholarships, Bursaries, And Grants

    Scholarships, bursaries, and grants can help put you through university. For many people, higher education would not be feasible without these funding streams. A grant is an allocated amount of money awarded to a student for a particular reason. In the case of a university, a grant is a form of financial aid. Scholarships and bursaries are two different forms of financial aid. They are both usually given as grants. In essence, the difference between the two lies in their eligibility requirements. Generally speaking, scholarships are merit-based, and bursaries are need-based. Often, these categories are combined. Scholarships and bursaries can be both need and merit-based awards. 

    Though scholarships are one of the best funding options available to students, they can be a little intimidating. Why? Because scholarships are competitive. Often, people do not have enough confidence in themselves to believe that they have a chance of receiving a scholarship. However, the reality is that there are tens of billions of dollars in scholarship money available to students. As a result, the chance that you qualify for a scholarship is fairly high. 

    To determine whether or not you qualify for scholarships, it is a good idea to take stock of your situation. Many scholarships cater specifically to a certain group of people. Others are catered to a particular activity. Therefore, it can help to think about who you are, where you live, and what you do. Make a list of activities you are involved in, achievements you have had, and organizations you have worked with. 

    Once you have a list of your qualities, characteristics, and achievements, you can begin to look for scholarships. If you are still in school, one of the best places to begin looking for scholarships is with the school’s guidance counselor. Another great place to look is at the financial and admissions offices or webpages of a local university. Also, there are a lot of online resources available to help search for scholarships. With any luck, these places will give you a good overview of the process of applying for scholarships. 

    There are several different types of scholarships. Academic scholarships are the most common and are competitive grants based on academic success and merit. Generally, academic scholarships are awarded based upon high school grades. Other academic scholarships are awarded part way through a degree based upon first and second-year success. They tend to be offered by universities or external donors. Often, these scholarships are awarded to multiple students. For some students, academic scholarships pay for their entire degree.

    Some scholarships come in the form of a competition. These scholarships are usually based upon an essay or achievement. For example, many schools offer a small scholarship to the best application essay received. These scholarships are often smaller and will not cover the total cost of your degree. They are still a great way to reduce the overall cost. Securing multiple funding streams is a great way to keep costs low. You can often find these scholarships by looking at the universities you’re interested in or in online databases.

    Another popular form of scholarship is an athletic scholarship, probably the second most common form of scholarship. These scholarships are based upon athletic excellence and usually involve playing for the university sports team. Playing college sports can be strenuous while also pursuing a degree; however, it can also be very rewarding and help with the total cost. To secure an athletic scholarship, you need to be among the top tier of athletes in the country at the high school level. Often, college players are scouted for professional sports.

    In addition to scholarships, bursaries are a great funding option. For the most part, bursaries are need-based grants. These grants tend to look at things like economic class, demographic, region, and income level. Often, bursaries are offered by the government. These grants attempt to give everyone a fair shot when it comes to pursuing a university degree. To qualify for most bursaries, you must generally be considered disenfranchised in some way. You can find available bursaries in many of the same ways as you can discover scholarships.  

    Tips for Graduating from Your Degree Debt-Free

    It is now a rare feat to graduate school debt-free. If you can manage to pull it off, you’re already well ahead of the pack. Being debt-free can put you at a substantial advantage when you enter the workforce, relieving mental and economic pressure and allowing you to save for important things such as vacation, housing, car payments, and family life.

    Graduating from university debt-free means leaving school without any outstanding student loans. To do so, it is necessary to either avoid loans altogether or pay them off before graduation. Unless you are particularly financially privileged, this is not an easy task. Both of the above options involve smart financial planning, cost reduction strategies, and, often, securing financial aid. 

    One of the most important things to do when planning for college is developing a budget. Creating and maintaining a thorough and well-planned budget can set you on the right path and help you to keep track of your financial situation as you study. In many ways, creating a student budget is no different from creating any other budget. It involves taking note of your expenses, all of your income, and all of the necessary saving pools you must have. 

    There are a few different financial streams to be constantly aware of in a budget. These include monthly income, total income, discretionary income, essential and non-essential expenses, and savings. Oftentimes, students are not able to build much of a savings account. However, savings can account for temporary pools required to pay off larger regular expenses such as tuition and rent. 

    A budget is not a one-time creation. Instead, a budget is an ongoing project which must be updated and maintained. Over time, your financial situation will change. As a result, your budget must be adapted accordingly. This helps to account for new expenses, income streams, and living changes. Budgeting can be very helpful when you are attempting to reduce costs. For instance, creating a budget allows you to see the total cost of the additional fees that come along with university. Many of these fees may be unnecessary and can often be opted out of. 

    There are many different budgeting tricks you can implement to help save money. These include updating your budget at the start of every month. Doing so keeps your budget consistent and makes it easy to adapt as necessary. Also, since many expenses, such as rent, tend to be due monthly, a monthly budget makes sense. Other tips include allocating a certain amount of money every month to miscellaneous funds. It is unlikely that you will be able to account for every single expense in advance. If you budget every dollar and realize that an unexpected expense has arisen, you will run into trouble. 

    In addition to budgeting, students can reduce their costs by attending more affordable institutions, including in-state schools, community colleges, or online programs. As mentioned earlier, state schools and community colleges can be far cheaper than out of state or private universities. Online programs can save you a lot of money as well. Often, prestigious and well-respected universities offer online programs. They also lead to the same degree as an in-person program and cost the same amount of tuition. The savings for online courses tend to be elsewhere.

    Online courses are a cheaper option as they do not require relocation, have lower overhead costs, and often allow you to opt-out of physical facility use. For many students, the additional expenses of university end up costing far more than the tuition itself. As a result, it is possible to save a significant amount of money by reducing the additional fees. Online courses are also generally a lot more flexible than an in-person course and are easier to fit into busy work schedules. 

    Conclusion

    College can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. It can set you up for success and launch you on a successful career path. Unfortunately, it is also the source of much financial strain for many people. According to recent studies, 70% of students in the country graduate with debt. The federal debt crisis is approximately $1.6 trillion. 

    Graduating with significant student debt can have serious implications on your life. As you are required to pay off the interest on your loans, much of your salary increase can end up going to loan repayments instead of savings, mortgage payments, and family planning. It can also lead to serious stress and personal strain. That said, most students know that getting a degree is the best way to get the job they want and can be worth the investment over time. The key is to find a balance that allows you to attend college or university without accruing debt that will impact your finances for the rest of your life.

    Fortunately, graduating without much student debt is still possible with financial planning, budgeting, making affordable choices, and reducing expenses. One of the best ways to lower the costs of your education is to attend an in-state school. Often, in-state online schools are even more cost-effective. The overhead costs associated with traditional in-person degrees are reduced for online programs. Also, in-state online schools typically offer lower tuition costs to residents and are unlikely to require physical relocation. 

    If you’re thinking about earning a college degree but are feeling overwhelmed by the possibility of taking on a lot of debt, relax. It takes a lot of planning, but it is possible to graduate debt-free. It starts with finding the right program at the right school. Then, find all the financial assistance you can in the form of scholarships, grants, and bursaries. Budget your money well and work through school if you can, paying off things as you go. No one said it was going to be easy, but it is certainly possible.

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