I recently came across an interesting story about a kid from Oklahoma paying off his college tuition with 500 pounds of pennies.
It was one of those ‘you had to click on’ stories on the internet, and it was really awesome to hear this kid’s story. I highly recommend it.
Beside the fact that he saved a ton of pennies ($974 worth!) he worked for ever dollar. He painted houses, mowed lawns, budgeted, and picked up any job he could. That’s it. Plain old hard work, basic personal finance skills and determination to execute on this plan.
With all the hoopla about college loans, rising tuition prices and a lack of jobs out there, it makes you wonder how a kid could do this? And, to be honest, I think more people could do what that kid from Oklahoma did.
Here are some tips for coming out of college debt free (or close to it)
1. Pick a college that is GIVING you money to attend
Forget about how high a school is ranked, or how prestigious it is. Find the school that will give you a good education and opportunity (most schools will) and then let them shave the tuition price for you to attend.
You worked hard in school; you deserve to be recognized for your accomplishments.
2. Make a case for more financial aid
Colleges want you to attend their school. They want you to succeed and have the time of your life and learn a lot.
Don’t feel like you have to just accept what’s given to you right away. You spent years of your life preparing for the next step, and now is no time to let laziness or excitement cloud your logic. Don’t expect anything, but let the college know that you want to attend (if you do) and let them know that other schools have offered you attractive packages as well, and you’ll need more help paying for school. If you don’t at least try, then you’ll never know.
So, go out there and give it a shot. If you don’t receive more money, then at least you got yourself some sales experience and experienced a let down before you go off to college. Learning those skills are extremely important for college and beyond.
3. Work a job
You don’t have to work a full-time job while in college, but being able to make some extra cash to pay for living expenses will help ease the pain of tuition payments, teach real life skills, and you’ll learn the value of a dollar faster than your peers will. Plus, employers LOVE this. Don’t be bummed that you have to work when others don’t. Be grateful because you’ll learn a lot more than they will.
You can get a job on campus at a student service center, local restaurant, etc.
If you have technical or design chops, you can make a nice income freelancing online, too.
Like writing? try self-publishing some ebooks. You have to write at school anyways, might as well make a few bucks and build a name for yourself 🙂
College is a time to try different things, meet others and improve your quality of life. So, don’t be afraid to work hard and fail at times. It will only help.
4. Continue applying for scholarships even when you’re in college
This is a MAJOR opportunity that so many students forget. Companies, organizations, individuals and more are always giving out scholarships, even to students who are already in college.
These may require you to write an essay, short response, send in a video, do something creative, live in a certain area or maybe just fill out a form. The bottom line is, scholarships are available and you should take advantage of them.
Why not fill out a few forms, write a short essay or answer a few questions for a chance to win a few hundred or a few thousand dollars?
Every bit counts, and scholarships can really bring in some big bucks.
5. Tutor other students
You have to study in college anyway, and what better way to learn than to teach others?
You’re probably thinking, “I’m not smart enough” or “I’m not good at math” or…you name it.
Those are just excuses you’ve made. You’re plenty smart, and you probably are underselling yourself.
Maybe you’re good at writing, or have great study tips, or are passionate about history. These are things that some people are good at, and others aren’t.
There’s always things where people are lacking and that you can fix. Find what you’re good at, or even just a little bit better at than others, and study these topics with friends for a few bucks.
Most people would be happy to pay someone to help them study, or buy you a coffee, or maybe help you in an area where you’re struggling so you don’t have to pay someone else!
While most schools offer tutoring centers, a lot of students don’t like to ask professors or students they don’t know for help, so you can come in and serve that side of the market.
There’s a million other ways, too. You can do ANYTHING to help others, make some money, and feel good about the work you did.
Just be creative and honest with yourself, and I promise you’ll find ways to pay for college if you really want to.
Have any other ideas? Comment below! We’d love to add to this list and help others 🙂