How to Graduate College with Little to no Debt

Most of you who follow me on instagram wanted to know how I was able to graduate college with little to no debt, so I wanted to recreate this post to share with you about my experience. The reality is that college is expensive and it’s getting even more expensive, therefore student loan debt continues to rise. I was reading an article recently on the Washington Post, which stated that “Student debt now totals about $1.5 trillion, more than credit card and auto loan debt.” I continued to read other articles and reports which state that women carry a bigger burden of debt than men. I don’t know about you, but that’s really scary. It is honestly something that the country should address and that we should all pay attention to when electing officials.

For starters, I received my bachelors degree in 2011 and I haven’t made any plans to further my education. Just like most people, I went to college with no money other than what I had earned working retail just a few months before freshmen year. In my previous post, I talked about learning to let go control – because I’ve had so much control over myself and future since I was in High School. One thing that I was sure of before going into college was that I didn’t want my mother to ever have to worry about helping finance my education. I also at the time had a fear of debt, and my negative view of it made me hustle hard and work smarter. Because of everything below, I was able to pay-off my student loans within a month after graduating.

Take dual credit courses pre-college
My high school offered dual-credit courses before I graduated, so instead of having a regular schedule of a senior I decided to add some college level courses which would give me the opportunity to earn the credits necessary to graduate high school while also getting credit for a college level course. One of the courses I took was Algebra, so I never had to take a math course after my senior year in high school(don’t give me a math test Instead of enjoying the free time and short school schedule of a High School senior, I enrolled in journalism and broadcasting classes as well as dual credit college courses. So you can understand why it was easy for me to transition that attitude into the college world. There are so many “typical” things that I opted out of because I knew what I wanted, and I have always been able to see different perspective outcomes- which helped me weight my choices. You really have to take responsibility and know what you want.

Choose to remain in-state
This one is a good follow-up to the previous, because had I chosen to attend a program that I could have attended and received a bachelor/masters within 5 years – I wouldn’t have been able to transfer those dual credit courses and my tuition would have been higher. Although that program would have put me ahead, I don’t regret choosing to remain in-state.

Attend Community College
I remember my mom telling me to go to community college, and I wasn’t listening. But while in college, I decided to take some of the courses that I didn’t feel would benefit me in my future career in community college. So, during one summer I took history and a science course at a local community college. The classes were way more affordable than those at a university.

Apply for financial aid & scholarships
Please do this. Though not everyone might qualify, there are many forms of assistance available( and hopefully more will be created in the coming future). From financial aid to scholarships and opportunities for work-study programs. I qualified for financial aid(Thank the Gods). I was given 1 or 2 grants my first year and the rest I used student loans and some of the money I had earned working during the summer. I also decided to apply for a scholarship in the school of mass communication after someone told me that most people don’t bother applying for scholarships because they don’t think they’ll get them. So I applied, and with little to probably no competition, I was awarded 2 scholarships for my last semester year. Whatever money that wasn’t used in the school year and was cashed out to me, I’d save instead of going on a shopping spree.

Get a PT job or internship or work during summer
I worked during the summer months and would also save that money to buy school supplies, books, new clothes or whatever I needed for the school year. Y’all, I’m pretty sure books still cost a good penny! On that note – I’d buy them used from classmates or rent them for the year.

Spend less, SAVE more
And we’re back again. Please learn to save, this will help you for the rest of your life (if you don’t believe me, ask your parents or grandparents). Learn to not be so dependent on brands, status and whether you’re cool or not. One thing I loved about college was the fact that nobody was really “better” than anyone, we were all just trying to make it. I also attended any event that offered free food(yeah, the foodie has always been around), this helped me in moments when I ran out of my meal plan.

Work for your school
Yo, this saved me A LOT. I was super involved within my school that I ended up applying to be a resident assistant. I got the job, and although it kept me away from the traditional “college experience” due to scheduling – I wouldn’t change it if I was given a do over. Why, you ask? 1. Room & Board was covered 2. Meals were covered. Because of this opportunity, I was able to keep living on campus as an upperclassman unlike some of my peers who were forced into off-campus housing- which has gotten even more expensive as well. I’m definitely forever thankful for this benefit the RA job afforded me.

CLEP out of some courses
There are opportunities to test out of certain subject that you feel you are well knowledgeable in. I CLEPed out of French I and II, therefore I didn’t have to take the classes at full price and spend all the time taking those easy courses.

Don’t be a slacker
Take school seriously, if you are struggling ask for help. I’ve never met a college professor who wanted their students to fail. I was the kid who was always asking questions, especially in some of my most challenging courses. I’d ask my professors for assistance, extra credit or for any studying advice. I also figured out my ways of studying, whether it be surrounded by people or alone in a quiet place – finding this out will help you a bunch!

Pick a major
It can be hard to pick a major if you don’t know what you want to do. Which is why I would suggest beginning to think about your potential career before applying to college. In declaring a major, you’re able to quickly move through the college experience instead of hopping around from major to major(there’s nothing wrong with that), but we’re trynna save some coins here! I came in to college wanting to study Journalism, but something within me lead me to advertising, so I was able to declare it.

Graduate on time or earlier
Because I took dual credit courses, some courses in community college, CLEPed out of French, and declared a major early – I was able to graduate a full semester early and get a head start in the crazy “real world.”

Remember everyone’s case is different, this is what has worked for me. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below


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1 Comment

  1. August 6, 2018 / 9:01 am

    I am proud of you daughter, it was hard but you managed to finish well and early! I appreciate every step that you took from the beginning to the end even though i was always anxious.