Never Say Never! Yes, You Can Graduate College Debt Free. Here’s How….

Debt Free Baby!

I graduated from college with $0 in debt.

Let that sink in a little.

Powerful isn’t it?  

With Occupy Wall-Street protests, college graduates moving back home, and complaint after complaint about college tuition, it seems like graduating college debt free is something of the past.

I’m here to let you know that it’s not only possible but highly attainable!

I don’t know what life situation you may be in right now but I want to share with you some steps that I took to achieve my goal of zero dollars in debt after college.  Yes, blood and sweat was involved, but at the end of the day, it was so worth it to walk off with my diploma knowing that I worked for my education without the help of banks or government aid.

So let’s get started!

Suck it up, stay at home

When I speak of “tools” I’m talking about things that are around you during college.  My first tool I used was my family.  Thankfully, my parents lived close by to my University and I was able to live at home for the majority of my college career.  I will never forget the day I turned 18 and headed off to college.  My Dad brought me into his office and said

“Son, you’re on your own now, all financial help is being cut off.”

Talk about a wake-up call!  

With friends joining fraternities or moving into houses on campus, it could have been easy for me to give in and shell out the big bucks (or debt) to live nearby campus.  Unfortunately, like my Dad said, all my financial funds were cut off and it was up to me to pay for my living situation.  Instead of paying for rent, utilities, and food, I stayed home most of college and saved big time because of it.  I attribute this to the biggest reason I stayed debt free during school.

In-state colleges are goldmines

Although living at home is great and wonderful, it’s just not reality for a lot of students out there.  Thankfully, there is another big dollar tool that I used: in-state college.  I remember comparing the costs of out of state college and it was typically double or even triple the tuition cost of the in-state schools.  Yes, you may be going to a less prestigious University, but guess what, most employers could care less where you went to school.

To be honest, most companies care more about your internships and work experience.  I think our media has done a great job of brainwashing our youth and making us think that a prestigious University is our only option.  Trust me; it’s not worth it to have hundreds of thousands in debt just to say you went to an Ivy League school.  Go to an in-state school and focus on work experience instead!

Work your butt off, then work some more

If you ain’t sweating, you ain’t trying!  Man, if you asked me what I did during college, I would tell you I worked.  No, not studying, but worked.  I swear, it felt like every weekend was work and I was always leaving social events early because I had work the next morning.  Doesn’t sound so glamorous does it?  Well, it isn’t, but I had a long term goal and that’s what mattered.  I remembered being so focused, other people’s behavior never phased me.

So working double shifts on the weekend and taking on side jobs on top of my part time jobs was easy for me.  I can safely say that if I didn’t have such a passion for paying my way through school, I wouldn’t have been able to work so much.  I guess it comes down to inspiration for something.  Once you find what that something is, anything is possible, including graduating college debt free.

Are you up for the challenge?

Even if it’s not college related, maybe you just want to pay off those pesky credit cards.  Or how about the home mortgage that never seems to go away.  Make it your passion in 2012 to crush your long term goals.  No more whining, no more waiting around for someone to help you.  Take life by the horns and just do it.

(Jon the Saver is a Christian personal finance blogger who founded Free Money Wisdom.  He is passionate about helping average Americans reach their financial goals and live a life free of debt.  During his down time, Jon loves a mean game of scrabble and lifting iron at the gym.)

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Comments | 2 Responses

  1. says

    Excellent article! Too many people don’t even consider that it’s possible to go to college debt free and they just sign up for loans like sheep. There is a great book called “Debt Free U” by Zac Bissonnette that gives all the info needed to go to college without debt. It CAN be done, you just have to think and act differently than the average college student.

    I wrote a couple of articles, one for the recent graduate, and one for the student preparing for college that demonstrate that if you do things the right way, you can make it in life without all that debt that drags you down.

  2. says

    I too graduated from college without any student loans so yes, it is possible. I think they key is that you have to be intentional about your college choice. I see so many student and parents not looking at the total cost to benefit they are getting with their school choice and before they realize it they are $20,000 in debt. There is nothing wrong with living at home or going to a community school your first few years to save on tuition and board. Like the article mention most employers do not care where you went to school so go to the school with the best value and work as hard as you can so that you will graduate without any loans.

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