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Graduate from College Debt Free with These Top Tips

If you’d like to finish college with both a diploma and financial freedom, here are some tips for graduating debt-free.

With proper money management, you’ll be able to deal with your college debts in an easier way, and without the headache.

Top tips on preparing for college expenses

The Bargainist explains that if you start early, you can prepare for your college expenses and deal with them without lending:

Taking Advanced Placement Calculus while your friends are sleeping in study hall may be a bummer. But AP courses not only increase the likelihood that you’ll graduate from college in four years, they also improve chances for scholarships. About 30 AP courses are offered, helping high schoolers earn college credit.

Aside from this, you can also start setting some savings aside during high school, you may even want to put a chunk of savings away on a time account that will not be unlocked for you until college.
Bargainist goes on to suggest cheaper schooling alternatives:

The first year or two of college is typically spent completing pre-requisite courses. These are classes that can easily be taken at a public two-year college at a much lower cost. According to CollegeBoard.com, the average price of a year of tuition and fees at a public two-year school is $2,544 on average. That’s an average savings of $4,476 compared to a four-year public university.

Private schools are great, but if you really want to get a bargain attend a public in-state school. Tuition costs just over $7,000 a year on average. Out-of-state students pay an extra $11,528, according to CollegeBoard.com. And if you go private, you’ll fork over nearly $20,000 more a year on average. That means a four-year education at a public school will cost just over $28,000. That won’t quite cover a year and a half at a private school.

Keep in mind that several schools are considered public Ivies, giving you a chance at Ivy League-quality education without the high price tag.

Parents are a great help

Free Money Finance reminds us that our parents are often the best source of help:

I don’t expect my kids to pay most of their college costs — unless you count scholarships they receive off list price. In that case, I’m counting on at least one of my kids doing enough to save me a bundle. If both do, I’d be ecstatic. The rule-of-thumb is 1/3, 1/3, and 1/3 when paying for college: 1/3 is paid from savings, 1/3 from current income, and 1/3 from loans for the student (this is after scholarships, of course.) My plan is 100% from savings. We’ll see how that goes.

Yes, I expect my kids to work to help pay for school. Certainly leading up to college (my son is already making a good income refereeing soccer games) and during the summers, but probably at least a bit while in school too.

I want the kids to have fun in college too, but they are going to have to pick and choose what they do (kinda like us grown-ups have to.) They’ll need to manage/control their spending to make sure they can participate in those activities that are most important to them.

With these tips and ideas, going to college can a more liberating experience financially.

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