4 Tips That Could Help You Graduate Nearly Debt-Free!
1. Reduce Your EFCWhat This Does: Many students think that working the year before college is a great way to save for school, but if your paycheck won’t cover the majority of your tuition and fees, you may want to rethink this theory. Any money earned the year before college must be included on the FAFSA and may increase your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC). Also, if mom and dad are thinking about making a big ticket purchase (new car, home, etc), encourage them to do so the year before you attend college, as this will reduce their cash on hand (savings) and help lower your EFC. How To Do This:
- Hold off on big ticket purchases (new car, home, etc.) until the year before college.
- Watch the amount of work you do the year before college; the total money earned could actually harm your available aid.
2. Consider a College With a Lower TuitionWhat This Does: We all have our ‘dream’ colleges, but if you end up with $40,000 or more in student debt after graduation, that dream can soon become a nightmare. Take a closer look at in-state public colleges or lesser-known schools with lower tuition and fees to help reduce the need for student loans. Another thing to consider is earning your AA or AS at the local community college, as this could help reduce housing fees, transportation and credit hour fees. How To Do This:
- Educate yourself on the true costs of college. Check the U.S. Department of Education for their college affordability and Transparency numbers.
- Look for schools not only with an affordable tuition, but also a low net price.
3. Secure a Generous Financial Aid PackageWhat This Does: Many colleges, such as Brown University, now offer financial aid packages that meet a student’s need without the use of student loans. Depending upon your income level, you may be offered grants and scholarships to meet all or some of your need. If you are in a higher income bracket, these schools still pledge to keep your student loan debt to under $5,000 per year. You can find more information on schools that offer financial aid pledges at the Project on Student Debt. How To Do This:
- Visit Project On Student Debt and browse through participating schools.
4. Maximize Your Financial AidWhat This Does: Be sure to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and contact your college's financial aid office, but don’t stop there. Many students neglect to look into the various resources for private financial aid, such as local churches, civic groups and businesses. An easy way to find available private aid is through a free online scholarship search service, such as ScholarshipExperts.com. Students can find programs based on hobbies, school activities, clubs and more. There’s no limit on the number of scholarships you can try to win, so Apply, Apply, Apply! How To Do This:
- See what scholarships you're eligible for by visiting ScholarshipExperts.com!