If you’ve read much of me on this site, you probably know two things about me, educationally: I went to a community college, and I don’t have a degree. I don’t have a degree primarily because I got a full-time job while I was still in school, and therefore dropped out, but I may never have finished otherwise. The work I was actually getting paid for and interested in doing long-term — most notably writing and copywriting, mostly for the internet — is not a path that requires a degree. No one has ever looked at a résumé or asked for my alma mater in my work, and I realize that that is a huge privilege. I understand that my ability to evade student debt was only partially because of my choices (and my parents’ insistence on community college). A lot of it was based in the fact that I didn’t have to keep going in expensive school programs, and I had the option to say no to a degree (undergrad or graduate) that would have put me in debt.
All of that said, even if a four-year degree (or more) is something you need for your career of choice, there are many ways to go about getting education. There are choices we make in each step of college life — where do we live, how many loans do we take out, do we work during school, do we work during school, etc — that make our educations more or less expensive, respectively. It’s easy, between the movies about college life we watch growing up, and the shiny brochures that promise us an idyllic student experience, to have a perfect image in our heads about what those years need to look like. It’s easy to get caught up in our first choice for everything, and not think about how making some adjustments will allow us to get the degree we need for a lot less money, and leave our adult lives with much less debt.
But during the time when we’re actually making these choices, most of us are teenagers, and very susceptible to not only the perception of others, but our own expectations for ourselves. We want to be making the “right” choice at all times, and for many of us, that often correlates to the most expensive ones. We get into an Ivy League school for example, even if that means hundreds of thousands of debt, we go to it, right? Not necessarily. And beyond the more obvious ways to make college more affordable (yes, everyone should have at least a part-time job during school, for starters) there are less-utilized strategies out there for saving money, on everything from the school choice itself to the cost of living while going there.
So, without further ado, here is this week’s TFD video, where Lauren and I break down the top five most underused ways to make college cheaper.
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