Creative Alternatives to Obtaining a College Degree without Taking on Student Loans

Written by: Samuel Gregoth

The idea of seeking further education and obtaining a degree to increase your viability in the Job Market may sound like an attractive idea. However, the phrase ‘Student Loan’ often carries a negative connotation. You may picture a huge ball and chain attached to your ankle for years to come. Many folks have had the exciting revelation of returning to school and furthering their education. However, they did not seriously consider the pain of Student Loan Repayment. Many are stuck with the stress of struggling with long-term student loan debt. 

Here are 8 Creative Ideasto help you obtain a Degree without taking on the Burden of Student Loan Debt.

What is a Grant?
Grants differ from Scholarships in that a Grant is based on need and Scholarships usually are based on merit. However, a Grant may come with strings attached and be based on a specific type of research. 

How to Apply?
Grants are also offered through Institutions of Education originating from the U.S. Department of Education. Check out the website and determine if you qualify and apply online.

What is a Scholarship?
Scholarships are usually merit based on ability, background or circumstance. A scholarship sets aside a set amount for each recipient that has met its set qualifications. 

How to Apply?
The Good news is that Scholarships are abundant and many are offered by Colleges, Universities and Private Institutions. To find a Scholarship from a private institution that matches your qualifications set or abilities may require diligent research. Some Private Institutions offering Scholarships have information available online, however; others do not and will require offline research. In that case, your Public Librarywould be an excellent resource for scouting out Scholarship opportunities. Public Scholarships are usually easier to access than private, since the Financial Aide Departmentof your educational institution could be approached for that type of information. Applying is as simple as tracking down a Scholarship and applying according its guidelines. In some cases, the guidelines may require an essay or that you meet certain criteria such as race, background, handicap status and etc. A Scholarship application approval process may take some time so don’t panic if you do not hear back right away. 

6.Community College
The Advantages of attending a Community College Education
Community Collegesoffer a Quality Educationat a much reduced tuition compared to a University. 
* They offered a wide variety of courses and usually offer a two year Associate’s Degreeor Professional certificate
Community Collegesare usually close to home. That’s a great benefit and cuts down on travel and housing expenses.
* Many Community Colleges offer evening courses that are conducive to working while attending school. 

Tips for attending a Community College!

* It is Important to verify that the College isAccredited. This is a hugely important factor because your degree or professional certificate may not be accepted as qualification for some job opportunities or not transferable to a University.
* Community Colleges differ as to entry qualifications. Some Colleges require the passing of a Test, whereas others may only require your High School Diploma.

The Reason that Community College was added to this list of alternative ways to fund an education is because of the reduced educational cost, and the fact that many Community Colleges offer evening classes. A person seeking to upgrade their education has the chance to work while attending school. They may find working to finance their education while attending school a viable alternative instead of taking on Student Loans Debt.

5.Work, Save, Schooling
Some have chosen the alternative option to work and save up first before attending school instead taking out Student Loans. 
1.Determine the cost of your desired degree. This would be a beneficial first Step.
2.Analyzing your household budget to calculate whether adding on a side job would be necessary.
3.Once an income source has been identified, calculating the monthly amount that could reasonably be saved towards the desired degree. 

These 3 steps will help you determine if working first, saving up and then attending School is a viable option for you.

What is Crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding is funding a particular cause by appealing to the public. In this modern age of GoFundMe and like websites, many finance their life situations by appealing to friends, family and interested parties online. 

How Does a Crowdfunding Campaign Work?
There are endless resources online to provide direction on how to set up a Crowdfunding Campaign. Gofundmeis a popular site often used to create online Crowdfunding Campaigns. Sites such as these allow one to effortlessly post a Crowdfunding Campaign. They usually take a percentage of monies donated. Rallying your friends and family will be an important factor to the success in your Crowdfunding efforts. Having numerous supporters can help direct attention to your efforts to raise donations. The Donators will have the option to make public their offerings or remain anonymous. 

3.Employer Funded Degree
Many companies offer funding their Employees, who wish to increase their education. Because education will improve the quality of their staff, many companies view it as a win-win situation. Consult your HR department to determine what Employer Funded Education opportunities are offered at your place of work. 

2.Online College Options
Community colleges and Universities alike offer Online Educationcourses. By taking, at-home online courses, you have the ability to acquire education a-al-carte. Taking a few courses at a time will keep the expense of education to a manageable amount. This will allow you to take courses that you can afford to pay for up-front or at least in a much shorter period of time than racking up enormous sums of Student Loan Debt. 

1.College Payment Plans
You may be surprised to find that some Community Colleges offer grants and payment plans. Some have even received a Free Educationby simply consulting with a counselor at the financial aid department of their local college. You won’t know until you try. Research your City and State Department of Educationto determine what resources are allocated towards tuition assistance programs. 

The excitement of going back to school and furthering your education may fog your perceptions of Student Loan Debt Repayment. However, taking time to carefully plan financing additional education cost can save you a great deal of money in the long run. While choosing one of the 8 alternatives for financing additional education cost above may require thinking outside the box, the time and effort put forth is worth it. You will thank yourself in the future. 


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