How a Reader’s Slapping College Loans Around

How do you plan on paying for college?

I love to hear from the readers about paying for college because this is one of the greatest expenses, next to a home mortgage that many of us will make in our 20s. Yet, for some reason, we don’t do anything about it. We just sign up for student loans, accept them, and get ourselves into debt. Even worse, when in college, there’s the chance to get into debt because of student credit cards.

I’m extremely proud of my one piece where I showed you guys how to graduate from college debt free. Instead of saving money on coffees and staying in like a mindless drone, you can tackle the major expenses and actually enjoy your life.

David is a long-time reader of Studenomics. He always shares some interesting insights. David recently wrote in a comment that deserves a mention:

While I’m now finishing up my Junior year at a public, in-state University, my total cost of attendance hovers around $20k per year (Tuition, fees, and average room and board). Fortunately, my state (Texas) and many others have had or still have programs where parents can prepay tuition at the then-current rate, then the state picks up the tab a decade or more later when the kid goes to college. My parents did this, in 1995 (when I was four years old) they paid the current tuition rate for two years of community college, then two years at a public, in-state University (cost then: ~$7k, value now: ~$28k).

I grew up knowing this was there, but also knowing that was the extent of parental support. Room and board, textbooks, gas, eating out, anything but tuition and fees would be self-funded. After graduating high school I started at my local community college, and finished my first two years in a year and a half, earning my associate’s degree in business administration. I transferred to a University last Fall, and still haven’t paid a dime of tuition out of pocket.

However, knowing that after transferring I would also be moving out and responsible for my living expenses, I worked diligently to find a job that I could work during school.

After attending a career fair, I found a company willing to allow me to work remotely part-time, and it’s paid well enough that I don’t have to kill myself working at minimum wage somewhere locally to try and pay for rent every month. I’ve also worked to keep my GPA above 3.75, so I qualify for a small scholarship that gets refunded to me as cash every semester, which also helps pay expenses. While my situation is unique, I think the aspects to consider are the following: Community College. No, it isn’t as fun as a big University with sports and hundreds of student organizations and parties abound, but it enabled me to finish my first two years ahead of schedule at very little cost (even if I had to pay out of pocket, tuition was $1100 a semester for 15 hours, and I lived at home). Second, Find an internship doing something relevant to your major.

I found someone willing to take me on as a bookkeeper for her small business (accounting major), which led to an introduction to someone else who’s proven invaluable for contacts, advice, and mentoring as I progress through school and prepare to embark on a career.

Finally, examine what it is you want to do, go to salary.com and find the average starting salary for your major/career. If you want to major in social work, then do it! Just know that you’re probably only going to earn $25-30k per year starting. Don’t borrow more than that. On the flip-side, a petroleum engineering major can look forward to $75-80k starting, and can afford to borrow more if necessary. Again, try to avoid student loans, but borrow and go for it if you’re sure you can complete all four years and will be happier in the job your degree can get you.

/end comment.

What’s your story? How do you plan on paying for college? How did you pay for college?

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