Just when you begin to think that the post-graduation trip your son or daughter wants to take when high school is over is expensive, you realize what the first semester of college looks like. College: Making that week in Cancun look downright affordable in comparison. College, my friends, is not an inexpensive place to go. It might have been a few minutes since I graduated (as in, it just occurred to me recently that I’ve been out of high school almost 15 years now) but it wasn’t all that affordable when I enrolled and began my college career. I don’t know what it costs now, and I’m sure I don’t want to know. With four small kids and the reality of knowing that college is going to be exceptionally expensive in a few years when they go, I just try to pretend it’s not my future.
College is expensive. Degrees don’t always get you in the door to work the career of your dreams, and most college students graduate with so much debt they would be far better off financially if they’d just gotten a job at a fast food place and stayed there for four years instead of actually graduating and finding themselves repaying those loans. Not to be such a downer – but it’s just reality. Fortunately, there are ways you can go to college free and clear, and I’m going to find those. It makes me feel so much better about our future, after all.
Work for Your College
If you do want to go to school and you want to do it free of charge, consider getting a job with the college. The best part is that many colleges do allow their employees to attend for nothing. The bad part is that not all colleges offer a free education to employees. The good part is that they do offer a discount and if you do have to pay for college, you definitely want to do it at a discounted rate, right? Get a job there and see what you can get in return for your hard work and dedication.
Talk to Your Employer
I know a number of people who are willing to pay for their employees to get a college education doing what they love. Perhaps you are an asset to your company and you want to make it your goal to go to school and get a degree. Talk to your boss and ask if the company is willing to pay for all or a portion of your classes as they apply to your job. It’s not quite the long shot that you think that it might be. Some people recognize the value of a great employee and want to help make that employee’s future that much brighter.
Join the Military
This is not the best idea for everyone. However, there are so many people who are willing to serve their country for four years or so to defend our freedom so that they can come home and have the country defend them with a college education that they don’t have to pay for. It’s not for everyone, but it’s for many people. Some people need the structure and maturity of the military – think about it. It’s what a lot of people do to get their kids to behave, to act right and to straighten out their lives, and it’s often the best thing for them. It comes with its downfalls such as the danger, the distance and the fact that so many people come back from combat with mental health issues on top of physical health issues, but for many it is the best way to obtain a college education. I only urge you to consider this one greatly before making any rash decisions.
Did you even know that there are dozens of colleges across the country that offer free college classes to students? These are colleges that want something from you in return, obviously; but they do offer you the chance to obtain a college education at no cost to you. Some want you to work there while you go to their free classes. Others want you to enroll in specific programs. Either way, they are there if you can find them in your area or at least in your job field. Take advantage of them, too.
Consider Student-Loan Forgiveness Opportunities
I believe these change regularly. Different professions are sometimes in need of people to apply for jobs so desperately that they are willing to pay off your loans if you get a job with them and work for so long. This kind of student loan forgiveness has been offered to teachers and to nurses in the past, and it never hurts to look into the programs being offered right now to see if you can take advantage of them.
Photo by Getty Images