By Martin Block, The Able Rise Group

Considering college? Furthering your education is an excellent way to progress your skills, learnings, and career. But for many, college comes at the cost of their finances. If you’re worried about the long-term debt that can accompany this new phase of life – never fear. Here, The College Planning Center shares some essential tangible tips to help you afford college — but without the crippling debt.

Save Money

Save money on college-related expenses as much as possible. For example, many high school seniors transitioning into college will take as many AP classes as possible to save on tuition and credits. You can also save by opting for a college in your state and avoiding the most expensive degrees. Going to a community college is another excellent way to secure a degree but at a lower cost. Many students also save by taking up on-campus placements to help supplement their income. There are many options when it comes to campus jobs. If you like interacting with people, you could become a resident advisor. Working at the library is an excellent option for those who want to finish some work while still clocking in hours. Another option is to help out at the campus kitchen or gift shop – there truly are endless possibilities to help you save money at school!

In addition, you can save a little more money depending on where you choose to live. Finding accommodations farther away from college can be cheaper, while campus accommodations are always slightly more costly. However, living closer to campus can also help you save on transportation, so be sure to consider all factors before making a decision.

Get a Side Hustle

This is one of the easiest ways to make extra cash for college – and it’s also one of the most fun! Whether it’s babysitting, dog walking, tutoring, or house cleaning, there are plenty of ways to make money outside your regular job. Doing this on weekends or at home will give you even more time in the day for studying and hanging out with friends.

Another way to offset the cost of college is to start your own business. While this may seem like a daunting task, with a bit of planning and perseverance, it can be a great way to cover the cost of tuition and other expenses. The first step is to develop a business plan; this should include an analysis of the market, a description of your products or services, and a financial projection.

Once you have a solid plan in place, you can begin to look for funding. There are a number of sources of funding available for small businesses, including loans, grants, and investment capital. Finally, once you have the necessary funding in place, you will need to register your business with the state. If you need help getting things going, then be sure to check out this guide on how to start a company. This process can vary depending on the type of business you are starting, but it is an important step in ensuring that your business is legal and compliant with all applicable regulations.

Use Coupons and Discounts

Suppose you’re shopping at places like Target, Walmart, or Best Buy. In that case, coupons are always available online, saving you cash when buying school supplies or textbooks – and sometimes even clothes! You can also find discounts through various apps like Groupon or LivingSocial that let users buy things in bulk at a discount. In addition, many businesses offer discounts to students with valid IDs.

Take advantage of these discounts whenever you can, as they can make a difference in your budgeting efforts. Some local businesses like restaurants or gyms will also have takeout or workout options on specific days that are discounted just for students! Planning your purchases around these sales and discounts will go a long way in helping you get through school with minimal debt.

Do a Professional Development Course

If you already have experience in a specific field, completing a professional development course might be worth your while. This is ideal for those with previous knowledge or skills who need to bump up their core competencies or update their skill set. Opting for a professional development course over a new or advanced degree can thus save you time and money.

For example, suppose you’re knowledgeable about project management. In that case, you can use a platform like Scrum to help teams communicate and collaborate on big projects. You can then take a course that helps you further your learnings on Scrum strategies and tactics. Once you’ve finished the course, you can take an assessment to validate your new skills. This can give you a good baseline for understanding the skills you’ve picked up and help you decide if you need to take additional courses to supplement your learnings.

Find New Funding Sources

There are lots of funding options for prospective college students like yourself. To get started, use funding sources that don’t require borrowing money from a bank (or credit card company). These include scholarships and grants, work-study programs, and student loans. These will be excellent options to ensure you remain debt-free or with minimal debt in the long run. Check out this Financial Aid toolkit by the Federal Student Aid program to get started. The NAFSA site is also an excellent resource for all prospective students, as it can connect you to prestigious scholarships and grants. In addition, you may want to consider specific loan options as well.

While loans come with interest rates that can rack up debt, there are a few innovative ways to use loans to your advantage. For example, borrow only what you need. Borrowing more than you need will increase the amount of debt you have to repay. If you take out a loan, try to repay the amount promptly. The sooner you repay your loans, the less interest you’ll pay long-term! You must also take the time to fully understand your loan options and what they entail. Once you know your payment schedule and terms, you’ll be able to come up with a concrete plan to help get your loans paid quickly and effortlessly.

Ready to get educated? College is an invaluable experience and is sure to help with your career goals and personal prospects. Be sure to follow the strategies mentioned above to get through your journey with minimal debt – simple things like completing a professional development course or starting a side hustle can go a long way in helping you do this.

For the personalized focus your child needs to guide them through the college admissions process, contact The College Planning Center today!