For many youngsters student loans are simply an inevitable part of attending college but, with a little bit of thought and planning, it is possible to attend college without loans, or perhaps with just a very small amount of loan debt.
Of course if you have plenty of time before you start college then you can begin putting money away now into a ‘college fund’ and, if you are lucky, your parents or other relatives might already be doing this for you. It is unlikely that this fund will meet all of your needs, but it can make a very good start.
The next step is to look for ‘free’ money in the form of grants and scholarships. Start by asking your college about grants and scholarships as many colleges will have sources available which are specific to the college. Then widen your search and try searching online at sites such as FastWeb.com and others. You will find that there are literally hundreds of grants and scholarships available and it is simply a matter of narrowing the field down to those for which you are eligible. Remember too that you can often get grant and scholarship funding from more than one source.
Having dipped into your savings and obtained some scholarship or grant money, the next best source of income will be to get a job. Now many people will tell you that working your way through college is a bad idea because you need to be using your time to study rather than to work. This is sheer nonsense and you will often find that students who have a job in college end up with better grades than those who do not work.
A part-time job will force you to organize your time more efficiently and, rather than eating into your study time, tends to keep you away from activities which simply waste your time and often cost you money. A job will also give you a true appreciation of the value of money and you will find yourself thinking twice about spending that $5 on something frivolous when it has just taken you an hour to earn it.
When it comes to finding a job take a look at your skills and try to find a good job that pays well. You can of course flip burgers in a local fast food restaurant but, if you have some skill, you might be better getting a job doing some computer programming or auto repair work.
Don’t forget too that there are many companies that provide places for college students and your college will often be able to provide you with a list to help you to start your search.
Finally, don’t forget the Internet. The web provides a great place to look for work and webmasters for example are often looking to outsource much of their work from content creation to graphic design and much more.
One final point is to look at just how much it is going to cost you to attend your chosen college and to consider cheaper alternatives. Although there is much talk about whether or not one college education is better than another the truth is that generally your success in life has much more to do with how much work you put in at college rather than which college you attend. And, on this note, do not overlook community colleges. You might be surprised to find that the standard of lecturing is just as good, and frequently better, at many community colleges.