I wanted to add something to the letter from the recent college graduate. I am a current college student with no debt.
Here are some of the things I do:
- Community College: I started with Community College, as most universities will usually accept 60-90 transfer units from accredited community colleges. At the CC level not only is it cheaper but they also have things like fee waivers and work programs to help pay for it. My CC even offers daycare/preschool for the students who have children run by the Early Childhood Education program.
- Choosing a University Wisely: My Professor told me that in my field of study, unless you graduate from MIT, it really doesn’t matter where you graduate from. So I picked a university in a less populated state with tuition significantly cheaper than my home state. It has an awesome Engineering department and smaller class sizes, which is great. Hint: It is in the Redoubt.
- Work: I always have some kind of part-time job. I also fix computers, tutor students, and create computer programs for people. I cleaned stalls and exercised horses to pay for my freshman year of college.
- Scholarships and Grants: This is a huge category that people seem to ignore, for some reason. If you are willing to work hard, keep your GPA above 3.0, and write a few essays, a lot of organizations give scholarships to students in need. Also a lot of universities offer transfer scholarships for students coming in with a GPA above 3.8; I have seen some with amounts as high as $10,000.
- GPA: I have a 4.0 GPA. This has opened a lot of doors for me, and it has also saved me a ton of money. Work hard, get good test scores, and test out of every class you can.
Good Luck – S.