4 Ways to Get a Degree Without Student Debt In US
For the majority of middle-income families, the possibility of completely paying cash for their children’s college education is becoming more and more far-fetched as another year passes. Stagnant wages and rising tuition costs are forcing many young Americans into graduating with several thousands of dollars in student debt. In addition to delaying a person’s retirement planning and curbing contributions to retirement accounts such as 401(k) Plans and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), the financial burden of student debt also stunts economic growth. Ultimately student debt reduces the amount of disposable income people have to buy a home, start a family or even spend on simple luxuries like going out to eat. The total amount of outstanding balances student debt in the United States reached the $1.3 trillion mark at the beginning of 2016. Most of which is backed by the federal government. This makes education-related debt the second-highest level of consumer debt in the country, only behind mortgages. Even more disheartening is the fact that student debt in the U.S. is growing by $2,726.27 every second, and approximately 14% of student loan borrowers are not on time with at least one of their payments, according to an article published by DoSomething.org.
One of the main contributors to America’s growing student debt crisis is the dramatic increase in the cost of higher education over a relatively short period. According to Ray Franke, an assistant professor of higher education at the University of Massachusetts, “[college tuition] has been rising almost six percent above the rate of inflation.” During the academic year 1971-1972, the annual cost of a four-year nonprofit university was roughly $1,800 while tuition at a public four-year college was under $500, when you make adjustments for inflation. Fast forward to more than four decades, the average cost of tuition at a private and public college, as of June 2015, was $31,231 and $9,139 respectively. That being said, it might be challenging to finance a college education without taking out loans, but it is not impossible. All it takes is a little compromise, creativity, and extra work. Below we will explore five ways to get a degree without needing to borrowing money.
1.Attend a State School or Community College
When it comes to the student debt crisis in America, the reality is many students are simply attending schools that they cannot afford, and as a result, they are forced to borrow large sums of money to finance their education. This decision is often made because there is a widely accepted notion that the prestige associated with attending a private university usually leads to better quality and higher paying employment opportunities after graduation than if one was to study at a public university or a community college. However, this thinking might very well not be true at all — as two studies, one published in 1999 and the other in 2011, both conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) found where a person obtained their degree had very little, if any, impact on a person’s salary. Furthermore, a 2014 study carried out by Gallup found that only 9% of employers said that they viewed someone’s university choice as an important factor when determining whether or not to hire them.
While tuition at a private college can cost a student anywhere from $36,000/year to as much as $51,000/year, state-subsidized colleges can offer tuition at much lower cost – typically in the ballpark of $9,000 to $16,000 a year depending on if a student is a state resident or not. Deciding to attend a state university, even if it is just to earn credits to later transfer to a private college, can make the cost of getting a degree very affordable and thus reduce your need to take on student debt.
2.Study at an Online University
Enrolling in an online undergraduate or graduate program is another cost-effective way to get a degree. Typically, one can study online for a fraction of the cost of attending a traditional university as the cost of tuition is much lower and other expenses like lodging are non-existent. In the past, there was a stigma attached to those who possessed online degrees, however, that is changing. A 2013 study conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group found that, “[t]he percent of academic leaders rating the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to those in face-to-face instruction had grown from 57 in 2003 to 77% in 2012.” There are a number of well-known and accredited schools with online programs including Liberty University, the largest Christian college in the world, and the George Washington University.
3.Apply To Multiple Scholarships Every Day
Scholarships can play a significant role in reducing a person’s overall cost of getting a degree. They are non-repayable monetary awards that are given out to assist accomplished people, whether academically or otherwise, with paying for their cost of attendance and other college expenses. If awarded enough, a student can significantly curb college-related costs or even avoid paying for things like tuition, books, and room and board with money from their own pocket. The good news is that there are so many opportunities out there for students to receive scholarships. As reported by Debt.org, “[e]ach year, an estimated $46 billion in grants and scholarship money is awarded by the U.S. Department of Education and the nation’s colleges and universities.” The report also states that a little more than $3 billion in non-repayable financial aid is awarded annually by private organizations like wealthy families, churches, and non-profit organizations. A handful of generous scholarships to consider applying to include, the University of Puget Sound’s Matelich Full Scholarship, the Jent Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, Grasshopper Entrepreneur Scholarship, the Ron Brown Scholarship for African Americans and the Becas Univision Scholarship for Hispanic Americans.
4.Join the Armed Forces
If you are willing to serve, you can benefit from financial assistance to pay for college from the U.S. Military. One of its most popular tuition assistance programs is the Post 911 GI Bill, which can award eligible military veterans up to 100% of their tuition and fees.
Owing massive amounts of student debt can make the investment of college more of a curse than a blessing. That’s because although a degree can help to significantly increase what someone makes, large debt payments can severely restrict a person’s disposable income for many years. There is currently more than $1 trillion in outstanding student loans in the United States, and this amount is only getting bigger. Despite what you might have heard about paying for college, it is possible to graduate with an undergraduate degree without taking on debt. Going to school online, attending an in-state public college, applying for numerous scholarships and joining the army are just a few ways one can do this.