Many ways to avoid educational debt do not involve being a scholarship student. People of average intelligence can also go through school debt-free. Yes, they can. It may take patience; however, at the end of the day, when you’ve earned the degree, there will be no debt payments.
These tips apply whether you are the student, or you are funding your child.
1. Work first and save up. Arrange to work for a year and save enough money to pay for what you have not been able to save.
2. Night classes. You can take night classes and work during the day. Sometimes, people are better students when they are older, making more mature decisions about doing the schoolwork, or choosing the courses they want. Since time is on your side once high school is over, you can slow things down and pay as you go. And if you are lucky enough to work for a company which encourages continuing education, they often pay all or part of the tuition. It may take a while, but as a young man I knew said,” I’m starting medical school late, and won’t be finished until I’m 40. But, I’ll be 40 anyway!”
3. Part time. You can go to school part-time and work. There is no rush to complete school. Any numbers of students are mature students, ages 25-65, so no one will be out-of-place if they take a little longer to finish school.
4. University Employment. If you or your kid gets a job at a local university, after a certain tenure of employment, employees can attend tuition-free or at reduced tuition. Think ahead.
5. Co-op Programs. Some universities, in some of their programs, arrange for students to work as part of their coursework, and earn money for it. The University of Waterloo in Ontario has the biggest co-op program in the country. Students can earn $30,000 – $75,000 by graduation. They work 4 to 6 co-op work terms, gaining 16 months to two years of work experience, and job placement is about 93 %.
6. Scholarships and Grants: Scholarships. Apply for every scholarship under the sun. If your child has any learning disabilities, play that card now. If your family has undergone any crises, financial or otherwise, see what you can do to find support from the government or the schools themselves. If your company helps with education expenses, tap them.
7. Bursaries. Apply for bursaries, which require proof of low income, although not academic standing. You do not have to repay this money. If you want grants or bursaries, you would be wise to apply and be approved for OSAP. Since you do not have to repay grants or bursaries, you want to get them if you can. But, do not spend the loan money they give you. In fact, repay it quickly. It’s debt, plain and simple. And hard and long to pay back.
8. Work-Study programs. Work-study requires some proof, often OSAP qualification, showing you don’t have much money. Then the school will find you an on-campus job at which you work between classes. The best place to work on campus is usually the library because it pays the highest, and has a union, although there are many on-campus jobs. They schedule the hours around the student’s class times, and often have an upward limit of 15 hours a week so the student has time to study. Though they may pay only minimum wage, it is a relatively painless way for you or your child to earn money to help fund the tuition.
9. Go Local. You can also stipulate your child will not go out-of-town to school. Even if their friends are going out-of-town, if education is uppermost in everyone’s mind, there are local universities or even those where commuting of an hour or so each way is possible. It will save about $4,000 – 6,000 a year in campus rent and living expenses. That’s a year’s tuition. While there is the loss of independence, students who live at home often do better scholastically their first year since there are no new distractions. Keep online education in mind, too. Almost all institutions are setting up courses off campus.
10. Reconsider Higher Education: Is a university or college education so vital? Have we let snobbism skew our view of the real world? If your kids are good with their hands at all, consider apprenticeship programs where students learn on the job and earn money while they learn. Have you checked out how much electricians make? These are usually smart people, too. Plumbers make a good living, as do heating and air conditioning technicians. If your child is not great at academics, why force a square peg into a round hole?
Sure, become a doctor, an engineer, or a historian, but don’t become a debt-ridden new grad.