Plan for a Debt-Free College Education

December 13, 2020
Written by:
Jamie Gaddy

Is a Debt-Free Education Even Possible?

Is that even possible? With the insatiable rising costs of higher education, the idea of college for many graduates is becoming a distant dream. Who wants to graduate with a pile of school loan debt that will take half a lifetime to pay off? What if there were ways to get through college and be debt-free? Well, there’s good news! There ARE ways, and they aren’t as difficult as you may think!

  1. While in high school, take as many dual-credit courses as you can. Make sure that those courses will be recognized by the college you plan to attend in the future.
  2. Do test prep, and take the SAT or ACT as many times as you need to in order to attain your state scholarship level. You see, each time you take the ACT or SAT you get a little more relaxed and you test at your true levels. For example, in our home state of Georgia, you need to graduate from an eligible high school with a 3.0 GPA OR obtain the 80th percentile on the SAT or ACT. In most cases, if the student attends a state college, the scholarship will cover 80% of the cost. Of course, if your student gets a higher score on the SAT or ACT, there are other state scholarships that will cover 100% of tuition costs for attending an in-state school.
  3. So, you might be wondering how you cover the other 20%. That’s where checking into the myriad of other scholarships is important. We’ve got you covered with our quarterly listings of available college scholarships. Apply to as many as possible – there’s one for you!
  4. Get a job. Research is clear: those students who work while in college perform better and end up with better time management skills. If you are worried about having enough time, start with a low hour part time job. You’re not only learning budgeting skills, you’re also learning how to budget your time.
  5. Use CLEP! No, that isn’t a disease. It’s College Level Examination Program. These tests cost about $150-200 and can give you from 2-12 hours of college credit. It’s perfect to CLEP out of some of your general core classes to save money and time.

The average high school student can easily accomplish most of these “debt-free” college options. Just remember, hard work and extra effort can take you far!

How Does America Pay for College?

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As you head back to homeschool and high school juniors and seniors begin making plans for their future, find out about the power of free money for your college-bound students. According to Sallie Mae’s How America Pays for College 2016 study, scholarships paid for nearly one-fifth (19 percent) of all undergraduate college costs in academic year 2015-16.

It is true that paying for a college degree is not easy. Many students take the easy way out and apply for all the student loans that the government makes it easy to get. However, in doing so – the student seals their future for at least the next decade or two. Many adults are still paying for college at the age of 50! That’s not the bright future that college graduates look forward to.

There are many free tools for the high school student to use to enable them to plan for college and get the help they need to make it through on a tight budget. The College Board has created a great free tool to help you plan your college career. With Create Your Road Map, you can log in and add your information, degree, etc. It will help you develop a plan and stick to it!

More About College Planning

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College Prep Guide


Jamie Gaddy

Jamie Gaddy, B.S., M.Ed., Ed.D. has been a college education professor for over 17 years. Education has been a part of her life in both the classroom and as a principal. Six children later found her dissatisfied with traditional school and homeschool became the better fit. She is also a pastor’s wife, editor, and entrepreneur who now homeschools four of her six children in Georgia. Jamie loves to share about her homeschool experience to help other homeschoolers find success. Connect with her at [email protected].