Graduating Debt-Free

I was lucky to graduate with my Bachelor’s completely debt-free, when more than half of graduates take debt with them averaging $30,1001. I actually managed to save money while in college—and I am going to share with you just how I did it.

First of all, grants are your best friend. Grants, otherwise known as financial aid, are offered by the government to students who are particularly in need of funding. Students who come from low-income families, are married, and/or have children, are generally favored when it comes to grants, though even if these criteria don’t apply to you, you may still be able to receive some financial aid.

If you have just been accepted into a post-secondary education program, go to www.fafsa.gov and apply for grants with the school you have been accepted into. If you have already been going to school for some time and haven’t yet applied for grants, do it now! Keep in mind there are application deadlines each year, so depending on when you apply you may not receive financial aid for another semester or two. Even if you think you won’t qualify for any money, go for it and you may be pleasantly surprised. I know I was!

Second, scholarships are yet another wonderful way of paying for school. There are thousands of different types of scholarships you can apply for. Sports scholarships, academic scholarships, I am poor and I need money scholarships. People out there are generous and willing to help students in need that have the potential to succeed. Some schools, such as mine, offer a scholarship application that automatically applies you to various types of scholarships so you don’t have to go through the hassle of finding them all—though of course you can apply for more scholarships on top of that.

You may not receive a ton of funding at first, but if you work hard and stay involved in the community you are more likely to receive that extra funding. My first year I received one-quarter of my tuition, my second year was half tuition, and by my third year I was on a full-tuition scholarship. Mine were based more on academics than anything else. You are awarded scholarships based on your performance the previous year, meaning, I started receiving full-tuition scholarships my third year because I got a 4.0 my second year.

Last but not least, is work. I worked all but one semester during my college career. The semesters I did work I worked one to two jobs, usually 20 hours per week, while taking on average 14 credits and maintaining my 3.9 GPA. Yes I was busy, but if you aren’t busy in college then you are doing something wrong. Work added another thing to my plate that taught me how to be even better at managing my time and my money. If you need more convincing as to why working during college is important, refer to my post It’s Not All About the GPA: What Recruiters are Looking For.

Graduating debt-free is entirely possible. It requires a lot of effort, but it is worth it in the end when you walk away from school without the burden of thousands of dollars of debt on your shoulders! Apply for grants and scholarships, do all that you can to maintain your scholarship with good grades and whatever else your scholarship is contingent upon, and consider picking up a part-time job. If you need help filling out any scholarship or grant applications, make a visit to your school’s financial aid office. If you do it right you could actually save money while in college! I’ll be sharing some of my college budgeting tips with you soon, so stay tuned!

  1. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2017/04/28/average-student-loan-debt-every-state/100893668/
  2. Image: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/amp/education/growing-number-georgia-students-debt-no-college-degree
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