For many people, the American Dream not only includes the house with the white picket fence, an SUV in the driveway, and 2 kids but also the ability to put those 2.5 kids through college so they may have the best chances in life.
But over the past few decades, we’ve seen the costs of tuition rise nationwide, and this has left many parents and young adults taking on loads of debt.
That’s the not-so-great news.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel…or should we say, at the end of this article. So be sure to read all the way through because we’re going to share how you can put yourself or your kids through college without amassing a ton of student loan debt!
The Student Debt Crisis – It May Be Worse Than We All Thought
Are you sitting down? According to a recent article on NBC, there are an estimated 44 million Americans who collectively hold over $1.6 trillion in student debt (STL Fed Estimate). And experts agree these numbers are climbing.
Now some might say the solution is for students to forego college and immediately enter the workforce out of high school. Unfortunately, that’s not a very realistic solution to the problem.
Thanks to advancements in technology, in particular automation, it is becoming harder and harder to earn a living wage without some kind of advanced degree.
In fact, it is estimated that, on average, college graduates earn 80% more than those with just a high school diploma or GED.
So it seems that college is not only more important than ever before but also more expensive. And this is putting a lot of Americans into debt. Hence, why this dichotomy has been called a “crisis” by many.
How Did Things Get So Bad?
To understand why college tuition costs have skyrocketed, it’s necessary to look back at the history of the higher education system in this country.
Before the turn of the century, the only people who went to college were the very wealthy and those seeking a religious education. Consider that in 1919, there were only an estimated 598,000 students enrolled in American colleges.
But as the decades passed, certain events led to higher education being more accessible to the public. For instance, in 1944, the G.I. Bill gave millions of veterans the chance to go to college for free.
Then, in 1954, the Supreme Court unanimously voted to strike down the “separate but equal” doctrine created by the Plessy v. Ferguson case, which made school segregation illegal and paved the way for more black students to earn their college education.
Then in 1958, the Cold War sent almost literal chills down the spines of many Americans, who believed we were falling behind with our technology. This prompted Congress to pass the National Defense Education Act, which offered students scholarships and loans to go to college.
Not long after, Lyndon B. Johnson began a “War on Poverty” that led to the Higher Education Act of 1965, which led to grants being given to lower-income students.
So for decades, there was an increasing number of kids going to college; it was no longer just for the wealthy class but for everyone. At the time, however, college tuition costs were very low.
But that all changed during the Tax Revolt of the 1980s when states passed tax and expenditure limits, which were essentially restrictions that state governments created to limit the amount of money they could tax or spend.
Seeing as the states used to highly subsidize college education for many people, and now these institutions were facing major budget cuts, something needed to be done. Not only did most states begin spending less, but they also began raising tuition costs.
And thus began an up-and-down cycle of the costs of higher education. In the early 2000s, for example, online education began to grow, which allowed large for-profit institutions to expand their enrollment.
In fact, it is estimated that from 2000 to 2010, enrollment in private for-profit institutions increased by a whopping 329%. People were able to afford an education again thanks to advancements in technology and online learning platforms.
Then 2008 came and the great recession hit and both federal and state governments made deep cuts to higher education funding, which in turn made schools raise tuition costs once again to recoup lost revenue.
Since that time, federal funding for higher education has not returned to what it was pre-2008 levels and as a result, college costs and debt increased significantly.
And so we now have millions of students that, according to the College Board, graduate holding an average of $29,000 in debt. This debt impacts how college graduates are living. For instance, surveys find that some debt holders are waiting to get married, buy a home, and begin starting a family. Some debt holders are also dealing with mental health issues brought on by the stress of paying off such a large debt.
It’s safe to say that student loan debt is a huge problem in this country that is affecting millions of people in numerous ways.
9 Ways to Pay for College Without a Ton of Loans
Whether you are about to graduate high school or are an adult hoping to go back to school to advance your career, there are ways you can pay for college without taking on a bunch of student loan debt. Let’s look at some of those now:
- Employer Reimbursement
Many businesses, in an effort to be competitive and attract top talent, are offering tuition reimbursement/assistance to both full and part-time employees. And we’re talking big-name brands like IBM, Home Depot, Coca-Cola, and Starbucks,
Granted, applying for scholarships can be a real hassle. The process usually takes a lot of time and effort. The upside to that is that many students are discouraged from even trying to get a scholarship, and so there is less competition to receive this money.
If you have the time and ability to focus and get the process done, scholarships can be a way to help pay for college and they don’t have to be paid back!
But keep reading because we have a MUCH EASIER way that you can slash your college education by THOUSANDS of dollars!
As much money gets left on the table with scholarships, even more gets left on the table with grants. In fact, a reported 2.9 billion in federal Pell Grants went unclaimed in 2014. And grants also don’t have to be paid back!
Beyond federal grants, there are also many private grants available to eligible students. Take the time to research and be sure to apply to as many as you can.
- Work Study Programs
Do you qualify for your school’s work-study program? These programs place students in an area related to their chosen field and allow the money they would earn to be used for tuition and other college-related expenses such as books.
- Join the Military
Remember that GI Bill we mentioned earlier? It’s still going strong, which means those who serve in the military can receive free college education, plus free housing while in school. To be eligible soldiers must have served on active duty with an honorable discharge. If you are already thinking about serving your country, this is a great way to do that AND earn a free education.
- Attend a State School
The truth is, young people get their hearts set on going to a specific school, not necessarily because it has the best programs but for another reason. It may be where their friends are going or they like the idea of moving out to California or somewhere else that’s warm.
But moving out of state to attend school, particularly a private school, will cost FAR MORE than attending a school in your own state. Often graduating school without debt means not going with your first choice. A state school will give you a great education and cost a fraction of what a private, out-of-state school would cost.
- Take Longer to Graduate
No one says you must graduate college in 4 years. Some students pay as they go, working part- or full-time jobs while in school to pay for each semester as they go. It may take you an extra year or two to graduate, but you won’t be carrying around massive amounts of debt when you do!
Many rewarding and high-paying careers don’t necessarily require a 4-year education, and that’s where certification comes in. Think of certification as a fast track to a career you love, that pays well and that can lead to future advancement.
When you enroll in a certification program, there is no unnecessary coursework and no undergraduate courses like English and History that are required. You focus your time and effort 100% on the skills you need to enter the workforce and land an excellent job in your chosen field.
Did you know that many employers focus on candidates with skills not necessarily degrees? Person A could have spent 4 years and $80,000 to earn their degree (and now they’re in debt), while Person B spent less than a year and only $11,000 getting certified. And person B may very well be the candidate that is most attractive to prospective employers and headhunters!
The bottom line is, that certification programs do one thing and one thing only: teach you the absolute skills necessary to start a specific career. There’s no theory involved, only obtaining the right information to get you a job!
OnlineDegree.com has partnered with colleges that offer certificate training so you can get started on your dream career in as little as 6 months! That’s right. You could gain skills and begin earning in less than one year.
How does that sound?
And we’ve made it incredibly easy for you to find the right certificate program!
We realize adult students are busy and don’t have a lot of time to research colleges and universities to find ones that are accredited, and offer tuition discounts and an externship. That’s why we’ve gone ahead and done the research for you!
Here’s all you have to do to get started:
Take our quiz to get matched to the best certification programs offered by our partnering universities. All of these programs meet the criteria we’ve laid out and they will be chosen for you based on your career goals and life situation.
If you’re ready to get started on your new and exciting career path, then take a few minutes to take this quiz.
- Take Free Online Classes
Well, you can’t get any more affordable than FREE. Taking free online classes will help you earn credits that can then be put toward your chosen degree. Not only will free courses help you save money, but they can also help you earn your degree much faster.
Free online classes are a great option, particularly for adult students, who may already have family and work obligations, as well as a limited budget. And this is exactly why OnlineDegree.com was created. Our mission is to make higher learning affordable and accessible for everyone.
Here’s how it works:
Students can take as many college-level courses as they’d like for FREE. Yep, you read that right, 100% FREE.
You can study at your own pace, at home, and never have to miss any important family events or work functions. We offer courses in a variety of areas such as marketing, computer programming, psychology, education, and much more.
But that’s not even the BEST PART!
We’ve built relationships with some of the top accredited colleges and universities across the country that can give you credit for the free courses you’ve completed. Not only does this give you the ability to save thousands on your degree, but it also allows you to potentially earn your degree much, much faster.
We’ve worked hard to make our courses super interesting, and the ability for those to apply as requirements toward your general education, elective, or degree-specific courses.
Enrollment takes a minute or less, so you can literally be learning by the end of the day.
There’s no denying that student loan debt is a massive problem in this country. There’s also no denying that gaining an education is the best way to ensure you have a career that will be rewarding and lucrative.
Luckily, you don’t have to go into debt to have a great career. If you follow these tips, you can obtain your degree without dragging around a bunch of debt behind you for years and years.
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