6 Ways to Pay for College Without Debt

It probably goes without saying that college isn’t cheap. But we just said it anyway.

The good news is that you have all kinds of options when it comes to paying for your kids to go to college—and none of them include student loans! And most don’t include a mandatory diet of ramen noodles.

Don’t believe us? Here are five ways to pay for college without using student loans: 

  1. College-Specific Scholarships: Since many colleges don’t publish a lot of information about their scholarships, it’s up to your teenager to get in touch with the financial aid office and find out what they offer. Every college awards a different amount, so make sure you know what to expect from the school your kids choose to attend. When should you start looking? The sooner, the better. 
  2. Federal Aid: Federal aid accounts for the largest amount of aid available, but it is mainly based on financial need. Don’t be discouraged if you are not eligible for federal aid—you can still take advantage of other sources of financial support available. A word of caution: Loans often get lumped in to the federal aid category—and you are not looking to borrow money. The only federal aid you should want is grants or scholarships. 
  3. State Aid: State aid based on a combination of need and achievement. To qualify, your kids should be working on their grades, test scores, and extracurricular activities to increase their chances of qualifying for state aid. Now’s a great time to remind your kids that hard work literally pays off.
  4. Local Scholarships: Thousands of scholarship dollars could be in your hometown, right under your nose. Just sniff around! Do a quick search on the Internet or have your teen speak with the school guidance counselor for a list of potential options. You could also have your teen contact your local chamber of commerce for a complete listing of small businesses and community organizations to contact. They’ll quickly learn that a little hard work and networking can go a long way!
  5. Military Aid: If you, your kids, or an immediate family member have served or plan to serve in the military, then look into military aid. This is a great way to serve our country and get college paid for!
  6. Pay Your Way: It seems like a foreign concept to some parents, but we promise saving up and paying for college yourself is doable. Between savings, a part-time job for your teen (yes, we said it), gift money or other sources of income, funding college is completely in your hands. Plus, you don’t have to wait for an acceptance letter to start saving! 

Parents, if you choose to pay for your kids’ education, we encourage you to save for tuition only after you have paid off all debt, have a 3–6 month emergency fund, and are investing 15% into retirement

No matter where your kids are right now, they can always take the time to do the scholarship research, build their credentials, and go out and earn some income. 

Don’t buy into the myth that loans are the only option. That’s just not true!