Attention Broke Students: How You Can Actually Graduate Debt Free

According to Yahoo News, the average amount of student debt that a student holds upon graduation is $25,250. The total amount of student debt carried by Americans is estimated to be $870 billion.

That sucks. Student debt will hold you back in your 20s because all of your money will be spent on paying back the money that you owe. You won’t be able to travel, take risks, or live the life that you want if you’re always thinking about the money that you owe. Life in your late-20s is way better when you have money.

I also found this stat over at Forbes:

“The numbers say it all: Since 1985, the price of college has increased a staggering 538%. Average student loan debt is approaching $30,000 per grad. And more than 50% of recent grads are either jobless or underemployed.”

How much student debt do you have under your belt right now? How much money will you owe by the time that you graduate from college?

Graduate college debt free

Everyone accepts student loans as a part of life. We justify it by claiming that college is an investment or an expense for a better life. We don’t look into ways to avoid student debt. We don’t try to get creative. We just get into debt and then figure out a way to pass our courses without missing a party.

Don’t you wish that you could just get your degree without owing thousands of dollars at the end?

Dumb question.

Guess what?

I graduated from college with zero debt and I want to show you how you can pull this off too!

I’m here to say screw student debt. You don’t have to be plagued with debt until you’re 40 and your hair is falling out. You should be able to enjoy life in your 20s and travel the world as much as possible.

How can you graduate from college debt free?

I’ll share with you exactly how I was able to complete my studies with money saved up in the bank and not owing a penny.

I also never missed any party. I had a blast in college and created memories that are going to last a lifetime. I made every mistake that you could make as a young punk. If I can do it, anyone can.

Living arrangements.

This is the biggest expense in college next to tuition because student housing isn’t really cheap. You also have to likely live on your own for the first time. This creates multiple challenges.

Where are you going to live?

You have many options for where you can actually live as a student. If you move out-of-town, you’re going to have to spend money on rent. You can optimize your living situation by finding roommates that will help you bring down the cost of this expense.

I wanted to share three examples of saving money on housing that I’ve seen first hand…

Example #1: I saved a boat load of money by living at home.

I went to a school that was an hour commute by public transportation. I commuted every single day and saved money on living expenses by an astronomical amount.

The major caveat here is that being at home is lame. Yes, living with your parents greatly impacts your love life and forces you to become creative when it comes to your dates if you know what I mean.

The only way that I survived was by visiting friends and family out-of-town that lived on their own. I would only recommend this option to those of you that have a strong relationship with your parents and can survive living at home without snapping (not everyone).

Example #2: A cousin of mine saved money on living by being in a program that had work terms.

This meant that he would alternate between school full-time and then work full-time. As a result of this, he was able to save enough money to cover his living expenses.

Example #3: My brother found decent rent by living with five other buddies.

They rented out a huge house in a college town and this brought the rent down a bit. It also increased the fun, as you could only imagine.

I must note that I likely would’ve ended up in debt if I moved away for college. I sacrificed huge by staying in town and living at home. This isn’t for everyone. It will suck. What doesn’t suck is having money in your 20s. It’s your call as to if you can survive staying at home. The one thing that made staying at home worth it was that I would plan many small trips throughout the year so that I always had something to look forward to.

The next expense is another killer…

Tuition.

Tuition is insanely expensive to put it kindly.

Every year you can spend the equivalent of a downpayment on a new home on tuition.

I’m going to share a huge secret with you right now:

You don’t have to apply for student loans to pay your tuition!

You have the following options:

  • Work during college. You can work on campus or find a weekend gig.
  • Work all summer. Use your summer to pay down your debt.
  • Apply for all forms of funding (scholarships, bursaries, and grants) to cover the expensive costs associate with tuition.

There are many options when it comes finding free money in college. Every college has all sorts of scholarships, bursaries, and awards offered.

All you have to do is apply. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no!

Go apply right now for free money (scholarships are one essay away)!

I was able to save money on tuition by applying for various scholarships, bursaries, and by even finding a loophole.

What was the loophole that I found? I discovered that at my school you can enrol as a part-time student and then take a full course load by just paying extra for the courses. The best part was that I was able to save one thousand dollars per semester simply by applying this strategy. Not all schools will have loopholes, but I guarantee you that every college offers some sort of financial assistance.

Never accept the tuition fees as final. Find any scholarship or financial assistance that you can. Spend all day on that financing section of your school’s website. Go to the office in person. Be persistent here because it’s your money and your future.

Working.

Working in college is a tricky subject. There are those that suggest that you only focus on your studies and getting your school work done. Then there are others that believe in working and keeping busy in school because of your youth and energy.

I personally worked full-time hours in college for my entire run.

I found that this had absolutely no negative consequences on my studies. I actually fondly look back at my productivity in those years. Working forced me to take my studies seriously because I worked at a job where many people were miserable lifers who never pursued their dreams.

Being able to work full-time all comes down to time management (covered in this article).

There are many online jobs for college students for those of you that are worried about being out of the house for too long. There are jobs on campus if you don’t want to travel far.

If all fails, you can always just work in the summer like mad when you have four months off.

All that matters is that you work!

Get into the habit of working. This will force you to manage your money, work on your time management, and to skip the so-so parties.

The next topic is the best part of college…

Going out and dating in college.

“You have four years to be irresponsible here. Relax. Work is for people with jobs. You’ll never remember class time, but you’ll remember time you wasted hanging out with your friends. So, stay out late. Go out on a Tuesday with your friends when you have a paper due Wednesday.” — Tom Petty

College is a giant party. I don’t want you to miss the party nor would I ever suggest that you miss out on the college experience.

How did I party in college without failing or going broke?

  • Didn’t go out every night (this happened in my mid-20s).
  • Went out once per week or when I earned it. You have to earn your partying.
  • Looked for drink specials.

I suggest that you earn everything. Earn every single drink (through training) and every night out (through getting solid results).

You can easily party in college without failing and going broke, by following these rules:

  1. When you have finals, don’t drink.
  2. When you have no money, don’t drink.
  3. When you’re behind on your notes, get your notes done.
  4. Treat yourself to a party for crushing that exam.
  5. Run away to the library to avoid everyone. I’m personally the friend who was the bad influence and I noticed that my friends would avoid me by going to the library.

I would wait until I finished my exams or papers to party hard. I got it out of my system and then went back to work. There’s no better feeling than getting together with friends for drinks after crushing that exam.

Time management.

What if you have no time? What’s this time management stuff all about? How are you supposed to work, party, study, and get enough sleep?

It’s all about setting priorities and getting things done instead of just sitting around. I just focused on what was important at the moment.

When I was at work I did my best to do my job so that I would stay employed for a long time.

When I got home I didn’t have time to waste on Facebook or YouTube. I got my school work done so that I would have some time to hit the gym or get some sleep.

We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Don’t leave me any excuses or sob stories.

Also, don’t feel guilty about wasting time. We all do it. Just try to stay ahead when you can.

Quick recap: How do I graduate college with zero debt?

Let’s recap the whole process for graduating college with zero debt:

  • Find the cheapest living arrangements as possible. Try to stay at home. If you move away, find roommates and bring the cost down.
  • Save money on tuition by applying for all kinds of financial assistance (scholarships mainly).
  • Get a job. Have some money coming in.
  • Earn your partying.

Is it worth it?

Yes. You have to make many sacrifices, but I promise you that it’s worth it. When it comes what to do after college, your options will be directly related to how much money that you owe. Would you rather travel or be stuck in the first lame job that you find?

That’s how you can graduate from college without any debt. If you’re not afraid of work and want to have fun in your 20s, then you can live a great life after college.

You owe it to every single student you know to share this with them. Life’s too short to spend your 20s in debt.

6 thoughts on “Attention Broke Students: How You Can Actually Graduate Debt Free”

  1. Edward Antrobus

    I’d add that once you earn a scholarship, work your butt off to keep it. HALF of my student loan debt would have never happened if I had been more dilegent about studying my freshman year and kept my GPA up to the amount stipulated by the terms of the scholarship.

    1. I totally forgot about that Edward. My school offered a variety of private (external companies) and internal scholarships. What were your conditions?

      1. Edward Antrobus

        I had to maintain at least a 3.5 Which is unsurprisingly difficult to do when you get in the habit of skipping class because it’s raining!

  2. I work with several people that said they want their children to experience the “college experience” therefore they kick their kids out. Ouchy!!

    The mentally of moving out as soon as you turn 18 years old is crazy and needs to change. I lived at home until I was 26. I do chores, help paying the bill. I manage to graduate with $100K of debt with a doctoral degree. But the job starting out at $70K not bad.

  3. Great post! I liked your comment about the loophole you found for your school. While that is not always the case at every school, evaluating tuition costs has the biggest impact on how much student debt you have to take on.

    Many people want to go to their “dream school” (usually being out of state or a private college) but unfortunately those dreams can turn to nightmares upon graduation with the amount of debt it takes to afford the tuition alone.

    Considering an in state on community college is a great way to start your college experience while saving thousands of dollars. From there, you can to figure out more ways to save on living and school expenses.

    1. I hear you Lydia. You can even opt out of certain payments. For example, some colleges allow you to cancel the insurance or local bus package. You can the get the money back!

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