Can You Get Through College Without Student Loans? Transition YOUniversity

Out of state? In State? 4 year college? JuCo? Online? Face-to-Face? Students loans? Grants? Scholarships? ACT Score? SAT Score? 


Where in the world do you start with all this? And is it even possible for you to go to college for free? 




Yes. It is. 


But it is not an option that many students take because it is hard and it requires sacrifice in a lot of situations. 


Here is where we are going to start.. 


  1. Start Saving for CollegeIt does not matter if you are two or twenty-two, if you plan on going to college start saving now. Dave Ramsey suggest starting an Educational Savings Account. It grows tax free and is the best place to keep your money till time to go to college. If you parents are going to help you this is the best option for you. You can encourage your family to contribute money to your college fund for birthdays and other holidays where they might get you a useless gift. You should also be working a job and putting all possible money in this account. College is expensive. Prepare for it. 
  2. Find out what scholarships you can get and apply for them like a crazy personI went to college for free my first two years because I got a basketball scholarship that covered all my tuition and books. Being on the basketball team, I also got a lot of meals for free as well. In addition to that scholarship, I was awarded several grants and other scholarships based on my reputation and work ethic. I did not receive any scholarships because of my grades or ACT score. So what you want to do is apply for everything even if you do not think you will get it or if you think that the amount is too small. There are literally millions of scholarships out there. It is possible for you to go to the college of your choosing on scholarships. 
  3. Figure out what you can affordThis is the only time you will go to college and have the college experience so you deserve to go wherever you want to go! NOT! Colleges will sell you on their campus, academics, social life and much more. They want you to think that their college is the best one for you and that you are going to be missing out on the best experience of your life if you chose to go somewhere else. This is NOT true. You deserve to go where you can afford to go. If you want to go to the “IT” school, then you need to figure out how you will pay for it (not your mom and dad and not by student loans.) It is possible for you to go to the college of your dreams, but if you have to borrow money to do so, then you my friend need to find another school. If you have $3,000 a semester in scholarships you can attend a school that cost $3,000 a semester. It is not hard-- It is actually really easy. Commit to a college you can afford. If you get offered a full ride to the school of your dreams, you should take it and go. 
  4. Work while you are in collegeIt can be done. I see students doing it every day. I did it. So can you. Many students take out loans for their cost of living because they have to study so much that they cannot work. That is a bunch of hooey. You are taking out loans so that you don't have to work. You have plenty of time to work a job. Check out my post on time management. You have the time. Do not lie to yourself. Working 20 hours a week, which is what I would recommend allows you to have money to eat, get gas and pay for rent. You are not entitled to being lazy in college. I have several students who have full-time careers, are parents, and are taking a full course load. You have an extra 20 hours a week to bring in some income for yourself. 
  5. Keep applying for scholarshipsIt is the easiest money that you can get. You are not done with scholarships once you have been accepted to college. There are a ton of scholarships out there for students who are already in college. First check with your college and see what they offer. Then branch out to state scholarships and national scholarships. If you are working, which we have already established that you should be, you can check with your employer about any scholarships or reimbursements they offer. I got my masters degree paid for through reimbursements. 
  6. Take online coursesOnline courses are great because you never have to be on campus. If you never have to be on campus, then you have more time to work. More time to work means more money. If you are able to manage your time like I teach here, then you most likely could work full time and go to school full-time. This is a great option for your first two years of school. The classes are often easier for the first two years and a lot of colleges offer an online associates degree that will transfer to any 4 year institution. 
  7. Do not take out student loansStudent loans are awful. I know that it can seem really exciting when someone offers you what seems like free money for college, but there is nothing free about it. Once that loan starts collecting interest the amount you owe will double and triple over time. Do not take out a loan. Just do not do it. There are ways to go to college for free, so do not fall into the student loan trap. 
  8. Live on a budgetNow is the perfect time to learn how to manage your money. It is a lot easier to manage your money when you are broke than when you are rich. The more you have the more self control you have to have. Budgeting is pretty simple. I talk about it here. The biggest thing you have to do when budgeting is to tell your money where to go. To start, you can get on your online banking and make a list of the money you have spent and where you spent it at. Then you can decide how much of those things were wants and how many were needs. You want to eliminate as much of the needs as possible. The more money you can put toward tuition the better. 
  9. Stay healthyGetting sick is expensive and most likely your immune system will need some help in the first year or so of school. So the basics, as you know, are to wash your hands, get plenty of sleep and eat healthy. And do not drink after your friends.  Getting enough sleep in college is hard, but it is important especially during cold and flu season. Enjoy the colder weather. Bundle up. Take extra naps. And put yourself to bed early. Your body and your budget will thank you later! 


You can go to college debt free. It is going to require some work from you though. I did it with a mediocre GPA and a minimum ACT score (and no, my parents didn’t pay for college). If you are determined to graduate debt free, you can, and it is out there for the taking! You can do it!!!


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