By Steve Siebold | Contributor
As college classes start backup around the country, I’ve been inundated with inquiries from both parents and kids wondering if the rising cost of tuition and the overwhelming debt that follows is really worth it.
If you are set on going to college, there are ways to make it more affordable:
You don’t need an Ivy League education: In most cases, a potential employer doesn’t really care where you went to school. They ask if you have a degree, but it rarely matters where the degree is from. Attending Harvard and other Ivy League schools can cost as much as $80,000 per year. So, unless you are looking to impress your friends, consider other options, especially community college and online institutions which are much more affordable.
Only borrow the bare minimum: The cost of higher education is enough to make even those with some money reconsider. We’re talking about potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt to blemish your credit score, not to mention 20 or 30 years to pay it off plus all the interest. Only borrow the very minimum you need. Can you get a job while you go to school to help pay for your education? What about an academic or athletic scholarship? Are you eligible for other forms of aid you don’t have to repay?
Attend an in-state institution: Your tax dollars support state-run schools, so if you attend college in the state in which you live, you can get a huge break. Out-of-state students often pay double and even triple what in-state students pay. Not only that, but if you attend school where you live, you can live at home and save money on housing and food.
Work with an expert in college financial aid: There are so many ins and outs of college financial aid that most people are unaware of and easily confused by, so it’s important to work with someone who has a thorough understanding of the system. For example, did you know there is more than $150 billion in free money through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)? Between FAFSA, Pell Grants and other programs, there is a lot more money available than you realize that can dramatically reduce the cost of school.
Be objective if college is right for you: Don’t just go to college because it seems like the thing to do. Sit down and really think about it. If you want to become a doctor or lawyer than absolutely, you need it. But what if you want to be a plumber, electrician or beauty stylist? A less expensive vocational school would be the right choice for you. Or maybe you want to be an entrepreneur, in which case you’re better off investing the money you would spend on college into your business and learning from real people who have made it huge in the real world on their own.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Steve Siebold is a certified financial educator (CFEd) and author of the book “How Money Works,” the number-one selling financial book of 2020.