Student loan debt has skyrocketed in the United States these past few years, going well beyond the $1 trillion mark. It’s a direct result of the increase of college tuition and that of life in college. Because of this, most students now finish college with the sole desire to have as little debt as possible. Fortunately, there are alternatives to student loans.
This article analyzes these alternatives, to help you find a way to get a good education while also remaining debt free. Here’s what you need to know:
Alternatives to student loans
1. Studying Abroad
A lot of American students already take part in summer- or semester-long exchange programs that take them to such European countries as France, Italy or Spain. So why not try to turn this into a full college adventure? Many European countries offer free or reduced tuition rates to students from all across the world. Not to mention that most undergraduate programs over there take three years to complete, not four, like in the United States. So you won’t just pay less on tuition, but on living expenses as well.
But the best part about studying abroad is that you learn more and that you get to experience an entirely different culture, with everything that it has to offer.
2. Getting a Pell Grant
Pell Grants are awarded by the federal government to those full- and part-time students who have not yet earned a bachelor’s degree. As of the 2016-2017 academic year, the maximum amount awarded to students was $5,815. The grant is calculated based on the student’s personal and family financial status,
The best thing about a Pell Grant is that you don’t have to repay it. And you can qualify for it every year of college, for up to six years. If you combine the Pell Grant with extra money from part-time jobs, you will be able to pay for college without taking out a student loan.
3. Going to a Free-Tuition College
If you didn’t know it yet, yes, some U.S. colleges charge no tuition. So how do they cover the costs of their students’ tuition? It’s simple, with endowment funding. The thing about such free tuition colleges is that competition is extremely high. If you want to get in, you need to have an excellent academic record.
Additionally, the U.S. Military Academy West Point, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy offer free higher education in exchange for continued military service to military members who qualify for admission. And there are also some colleges that charge no tuition in exchange for their students service on campus.