Working Not Borrowing Your Way Through College

coffee houseMost college hopefuls have a picturesque dreamscape in theirĀ  mind of what it will be like going off to college. Late night study sessions, relaxing lunch on the campus grounds, and dorm room parties. However, the costs of fulfilling that dream quickly add up when you can’t afford to go to college without taking out loans.

Pay As You Go

For a while there, many students were taking the non-traditional route of working their way through college. Instead of late night study sessions, night jobs or evening classes to compensate for working all day became the replacement. The only real cost? Taking an extra year or two to graduate, but these students left far less in debt than most are today. So why aren’t more people doing it?

For one, personal preference and, probably, a bit of fear. There is so much pressure to get a degree and get into the career field to start making money, many are seeing the quick cash a loan can offer as the better alternative to accomplish that quick turnaround. In 2013, students working their way through college were reported at theĀ  lowest level since the peak in 2000. Couple less students working their way through college, plus an increase in tuition costs only further fueled by the recession, and we have the student loan debt crisis we are seeing today. So what can we do?

Well, college hopefuls need to have more of an organized plan for attending college that includes a financial plan. If grants and savings aren’t going to be enough to cover the costs, consider an alternative class schedule that will allow them to work. This week, Starbucks announced a new plan to help their employees with their bachelor’s degree through an Arizona State University program. They will offer tuition reimbursement for employees who work at least 20 hours a week, that is a huge compensation for only working part time.

Hopefully other companies can follow suit.

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