To make more money over your lifetime, it usually helps to have a degree from an accredited university. This can not only make it easier to land your first job, but also to move up the ranks and earn more as the years go by.
However, while spending money on education is a worthwhile investment, you do need to avoid coming out of university with serious amounts of debt that you’ll never be able to pay off, or that will take you a large amount of your career to get on top of. To help you on your way, read on for five key tips you can follow today to get a college degree without lots of debt.
For starters, it pays to think about choosing a degree offered via online study. There are lots of courses available this way nowadays, from online MBAs with no GMAT required, to degrees in marketing, arts, education, engineering, and most other areas of interest.
When you opt for an online course rather than one that requires you to go to a campus each week, you can save money, and reduce your debt, in multiple ways. For example, rather than having to move away from home to attend university, you can study from anywhere, which means you can stay at home for longer and save money on costs such as accommodation, food, laundry, and utilities.
Another benefit of online programs is that their flexibility means you can still work in a job while you study. You don’t have to be on campus on specific days or for set times, and can instead work your studies around your own, personal schedule. This, in turn, means you can earn an income as you learn, and avoid having to rack up so much debt.
Choose the Best Course and University for Your Needs
Next, keep in mind that different universities can charge very different levels of fees for attending their institutions. As such, it can be worthwhile choosing a more affordable college. Most will be accredited in just the same ways, and will all provide you with the same kinds of opportunities (although you do need to do your research on this front to make sure your choice is adequate).
While you might like the idea of attending a prestigious university that’s well-known around the world, it’s quite possible your job prospects won’t actually be any better from choosing a more costly one. This is something to weigh up when making your decision.
Furthermore, be as sure as you can about the particular type of course you’re choosing too. If you want to avoid racking up huge debt, try to pick the best course for your needs the first time around. Instead of enrolling in a program just because your family pressure you to do so, or because you think it’s a “safe” option, find something you’re actually interested in. This will help you complete the whole degree, rather than wasting time and money on classes in the wrong program, and then having to start all over again with a new one.
Try to Reduce the Total Amount of Time You Spend Studying
It’s also helpful if you look for ways to reduce your overall time spent studying. Each month you’re paying for courses, accommodation, books and other expenses, and not out in the workforce, adds up. Think about opting for a combined degree, rather than finishing one and then starting on a second one (this can often save at least a year); or choose an accelerated program. You can also apply to receive college credit for prior knowledge, or gain extra credits for taking additional classes outside of normal term hours.
Find Financial Support Options
To reduce the amount of debt you walk out of university with, you should investigate financial support options too. There are numerous national, state, and local government scholarships, grants and other funding which can be applied for, as well as programs run by private organizations and colleges to support local students. Most of these types of funds never have to be repaid, and they can cover various expenses like tuition, books, and board.
Lastly, while you’re at college, look for ways to be frugal with your spending too. Try to find the most affordable accommodation possible (this might mean boarding with numerous roommates), and avoid spending hundreds of dollars on partying, new clothing, and other unnecessary expenses. Consider cooking for yourself rather than eating out all the time; and save money by purchasing second-hand textbooks, instead of new ones.