5 Ways to Graduate from College Debt-Free

JMJ 49  *Now I know there are private schools where the chances of graduating debt-free are pretty slim.  If your heart is set on one of these schools, the idea is to graduate with the least amount of debt possible.  The following  ideas to graduate completely debt-free, might not all be popular, but they are options that do work.  I know, because 2 of my daughters are on track to graduate debt-free.  Yay!

Ring the School Bell 49/180 Days

Otherwise known as Pepperdine, this university is positioned on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, with a perpetual refreshing ocean breeze. It is a private Christian university which holds students’ spiritual development as well as academic development in equal importance.

From our house in the San Fernando Valley, we had to drive through winding picturesque canyons to get here, and upon arriving drove up the grand driveway into the university, where deer were grazing on the lush lawn. (see photo) The guard waved us in with a smile, and everyone else greeted us with a warm welcome, including the admissions officer, receptionist, tour guide, and cafeteria cashier.

A Malibu Dream University, for sure.  Unfortunately, this one rings in at $60,000 a year, so scholarships would be necessary to attend this school.  Sabrina does not want to be wallowing  in debt after graduation, and we certainly don’t want that either!   We were both impressed and asked a lot of questions.  We felt like two VIPs as we were the only ones on the campus tour today.  Once again, I felt this one could be the university for Sabrina.  They even have an admissions officer especially designated for homeschoolers!

These Pepperdine University deer are graduating debt-free!

As I mentioned before, the following  ideas might not all be popular, but they are options that do work.  I know, because 2 of my daughters are on track to graduate debt-free.

  1. Don’t forget to apply for financial aid.  While Sabrina was in university the first 3 years, we were, unfortunately, just above the income limit for financial aid. However, when  Sarah joined the mix a few years later, we qualified since we had two of them attending college at the same time.  Sarah received enough state aid to pay for 90% of her tuition.  You don’t know unless you apply.
  2. Go to a state school.  It may not have all the elements you are looking for, but it is much more affordable than private school options, and a lot of times offer a greater diversity in programs than their private school counterparts.  Working part-time, with maybe a little help from mom and dad, and voila, debt-free college.  An obvious observation here, living at home is a huge money-saver.
  3. Take the community college route.  There are pros and cons here also, but one thing for sure is that you can save an enormous amount of money by working on your associate degree at a 2-year college, and then finishing up at the 4-year university.  As I mentioned in a previous post, Sarah completed an entire semester of general education credits while in high school, and Melissa is on target to complete an entire year’s worth of credits.  A great head start!
  4. Work through school and in the summer.  Sarah took her first semester at the university to adjust to the newness of it all.  She plans to work through the rest of her time at the university, in order to be able to pay as she goes.  Since she chose a state school, and also completed a semester’s worth of general education credits while still in high school, she should be able to accomplish this.
  5. Help your child to apply early or by the deadline to each university. Many private schools have huge endowment funds to share with students as they please. And many universities offer lucrative packages to desired students, on a rolling basis, meaning that when they run out of money to give away, your child might be out of luck in that regard.  Sabrina was offered varying amounts at each school she was admitted to, that helped her make her decision.  Also,  you or your child can approach the colleges and see if they will match each other’s offers.  I know of cases where this has worked beautifully.
  6.  Apply for scholarships.  This is a great book that helped us out a great deal:

Confessions of a Scholarship Winner: The Secrets That Helped Me Win $500,000 in Free Money for College by Kristina Ellis.  It’s her story, and definitely worth reading.  Ideally, it should be read when your child is in junior high, but we read it in Sabrina’s senior year in high school, and were able to apply some of the strategies.

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And so, we read the book, applied the strategy as best we could, and let’s just say Sabrina fared very well.  She was able to use the money earned in a part-time job, while attending university, to travel to France in the summer and save money to buy a car, instead of paying tuition.  Granted, that was a huge blessing, and it is not guaranteed, but, as I mentioned before with financial aid, you never know unless you apply.

Back home, it is beginning to look like a workshop again, in preparation for Melissa’s birthday.  Sabrina’s piano students, my homeschool mom friends stopping in, and John needing a space to have dinner, did motivate me to keep some kind of order in the house!  Hopefully, the house won’t get as thrashed as when we were preparing for the Halloween party and science fair just a few short days ago.

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** Note to the Reader- Today’s narrative is an excerpt of our family’s school journey from a few years ago, during my eldest daughter’s senior year in high school, a rather emotional year, with its many ups and downs.

May God shower blessings on your family as he has on mine.    Annette


2 Comments Add yours

  1. achildof says:

    Thank you for sharing those great tips and strategies.

    1. Your welcome! Have a blessed day.

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