How to Graduate from College with No Debt

man on chair with papers falling
January 2, 2020

With college so expensive these days, it seems impossible to pay for it with cash. But, you can learn how to graduate from college debt-free with these 4 tips.

Did you know that the average student loan debt hovers around $40,000?

While people are in school it may seem sensible to take out massive student loans. Instead of taking out huge student loans, can you imagine the freedom in your life if you were able to graduate from college debt-free? Below are 4 strategies to do just that and graduate from college debt-free.

1) Work During Summers and Part-time During the Year

Just like your parents may have told you when you turned 16, I am also reiterating, "Get a job". The reality is, people can work in college. And many people do.

I have a fairly technical degree and can squeeze in 15 hours a week which is a good considerable amount of side cash. It allows me to pay for room and board and other miscellaneous expenditures. During the school year a part-time job is best, but during the summer why not shoot for the stars? 

If you're not working at least 40 hours a week then you are getting too much free time! When you are able to focus on work in the summer, it is quite rewarding. You will be amazed at how much extra money you can make with 2 jobs at around 60 hours a week.

I worked 80+ hours a week  during my summer after high school. It was well worth it when I was able to spend that money on college and not have to take out a student loan. Working in college is one of the biggest factors when trying to graduate with no debt.

2) Consider Attending a Community College

Sometimes community colleges can get a bit of unfair treatment. In reality, they save tons of money and prepare you even further for university level classes. Community colleges are typically less than half the cost of state or private universities.

On top of that, a lot of credits will transfer over when you switch schools. Consider completing general breadth courses and then moving onto higher level courses at a state or private school. However, be sure you check with the school beforehand to make sure those credits will transfer over. I've had more than one friend who's learned that the hard way.

Plus, it is likely you can stay with your parents or a relative and save even more by saving on rent.

3) Apply for Scholarships (and Lots of Them)

Perhaps scholarships are better known methods of paying for college debt free. Personally, scholarships have allowed me to go through college debt free. For that I am extremely thankful. How did I get the scholarships I received? Academics and extracurriculars. 

Throughout high school I was a pretty big nerd. I still am quite the nerd to be honest with you. I got A's in all of my classes (expect AP Physics - curse you physics!) and I even took the ACT 4 times to get the best score possible.

It wasn't always easy studying and working hard when some of my peers were just hanging out and doing things "cooler" than school.

But, in the end it paid off. I barely squeezed by in order to qualify for a full ride to a college I wanted to go to.

Keep in mind that most scholarships never pay room and board, so you will still need to get money for your living expenses.

A wonderful scholarship website is

4) Keep a Long Term Outlook

I have mentioned this in one of my other debt-related articles, but truly I cannot stress this enough. The underlying cause of debt is instant gratification. Staying out of debt requires a long-term outlook and approach. 

Sure, it's not all that fun to work during the school year, but it's benefits far outweigh the other option. Think of the extra money you are making and the time management skills you are acquiring by balancing work and school. 

Sometimes the more logical path is not always the most popular. But hey, if staying out of debt was easy then everyone would do it, right?

Pick a plan and stick to it! It is possible to graduate debt free.

Hard work really does pay off.