Graduates walk in

(Photo credit: fotobydave)

According to a recent study by the Project on Student Debt, the average college student will graduate with $25,250 in student loans. According to, there is more than $1 Trillion in student loan debt outstanding. In fact, there is now more student loan debt than there is credit card debt in the United States.

So obviously there is a trend to borrow money in order to go to school, but is it the only way? Here are five things to consider to be able to graduate without any debt:

1. Consider the Cost
According to the College Board, the average annual cost for a private college  is $28,500, for state residents of a public college is $8,274, and for out-of-state residents attending a public university it is $20,770 (2011-2012 study). So if you are trying to go to college without taking on student loans, which one would be more realistic? Probably going to an in-state public university.

Another thing you could consider is going to a community college for 2 years and then transfer to a in-state public university. The average cost of community college tuition for 2011 was less than $3,000 per year. If you take this route it would only cost about $22,548 to have a four-year degree (excluding room and board).

2. Work Through College
I did this more toward the end of my college career. It is tough, but it is worth it. Get a job while you are in school to pay your tuition as you go. I worked full-time in retail while taking 6-12 credits per semester. It is a lot of work, but keep in mind this is only for a short period of time.

3. Apply for Scholarships
You do not need to be a rocket scientist to be eligible for a scholarship. You can actually get a scholarship for just about anything. Take a weekend and apply for different scholarship opportunities. Go to and you can put in your information and it will start to notify you of scholarships that match the information you provided. They have about $3.4 Billion in scholarships available, so why not apply?

4. Work for the University
If you are an employee, many universities will let you attend at a reduced rate or in some cases even for FREE.  Also, if your parent or spouse works for the institution you might be eligible for these discounts as well. Check with your school to see if they have any opportunities available.

5. Sign up for
I just found out about this site the other day and I absolutely love the concept. You can sign up and have people “invest in your college education.” Through the site people are able to help pay for your college costs.

As you can see, there are several ways in which you can go to college and not have to take on student loan debt. What will you choose to do?

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