By Chaz Oswald, 22, USA
During my senior year in high school, college was constantly on my mind. While I was eager to start a new chapter in life, like many seniors, I felt the stress of decision-making. I understood that the schools I applied for and later attend would influence my future.
One key consideration in my decision-making process was finance. Like most 17-year-old, I had limited financial resources. How could I afford an annual tuition fee of $30,000 without becoming a “servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7, niv)? Put differently, how could I responsibly handle the resources God had entrusted to me as well as refrain from sliding down the destructive slope of debt?
I had to come to grips with the cold hard facts. According to Average Credit Card Debt for a College Student, an average college graduate usually completes school with $2,100 in credit card debt and about $17,000 to $28,000 in school loans.
I refused to be another statistic. So I resolved in my heart that I would tackle the necessity of college with the goal of graduating debt free.
Ambitious? Yes. Impossible? Absolutely not. In fact you are capable of graduating debt free as well. All it takes is a little hard work, perseverance, and sound financial principles.
Once you have applied to suitable colleges and universities, the first step toward a debt free future is to educate yourself with the grants and scholarships that are available. Of course, your chance of receiving financial aid increases with your good academic performance. Grades are simply an investment. The better your grades, the greater your options.
Secondly, consider taking on a part-time job. Not only would working part-time build your resume, it also builds character and teaches you invaluable life lessons. If you are unsure where to begin looking for part-time work, bear in mind many colleges and universities offer campus jobs to students.
Local colleges are also an affordable alternative. In fact, if you attend a reasonably priced school and combine your experience with part-time work, you could save enough money to pay cash to transfer to the school of your dreams.
Other opportunities available to minimize academic debt according to a financial expert, Dave Ramsey, include:
- Accepting internships with a commitment to hire after graduation
- Seeking church gifts and scholarships
- Applying for private scholarships and grants
- Working prior to college admittance
By following this advice, college life will be an exciting time of your life filled with new friends, new adventures, and new freedoms. So be persistent, be financially wise, and graduate debt free.
YMI Note: Some of the examples stated may apply in the US context only. Nonetheless, Chaz has given us some good food for thought. Do we seek to live a debt free life? Is our only outstanding debt that of loving one another? Paul exhorts: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8, niv).