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The 11 Principles Series: Paying For Education with Cash

By Erik Folgate

Pay for your college education with cash. That sentence sounds so simple, but it is one of the toughest things to do in the 21st century. College tuition continues to rise, the cost of living continues to rise, and the demand to have that magical piece of paper called a degree continues to be more important. I will be honest from the beginning, I currently carry student loans. So this is not an article to preach to you all about paying cash for your education. I understand if you take out a loan. Most of my loans were taken in the first year and a half of my college degree, because I made the wrong decision of going to a private school that I could not afford. I realized that I was doing, quickly withdrew, and enrolled in a community college to finish my A.A. This is a challenge. I am challenging you to make a goal to pay cash for your education and your child’s education if you plan far enough ahead. I’m challenging you because I know you’ll thank me later on in life.

If you walk out of a post secondary degree with no debt, you will start the next chapter of your life financially ahead of more than half of your peers and others who went to college. How does that sound? That sounds like a good enough incentive to me. You’ll be in a better position to save up for a house quicker than people your age, and you’ll start a marriage with less stress in your life, because you carry much less of a debt load. I listen to Dave Ramsey’s radio show every now and then, and I always hear of twenty-somethings calling in with 50k, 100k, 150k of combined student loan debt. Granted, some of them are doctors, but some of them walk away with that just after undergraduate degrees. There are few things that you can do to help yourself pay cash for a college degree. Here they are:

  1. Go to a state school. If you’re parents did not plan for your college education, then you can’t afford a private school. Going to private college whether it’s a christian school, Ivy League school, or a specialist school is a luxury. You can get a great education at a state school for usually a third of the cost. You will find out that it matters less and less where you received your undergraduate degree. If it’s a reputable, accredited school, then your undergraduate degree can be done at a good state school. I know that a business degree from Harvard might look better than the one from the University of Arkansas, but it’s not about the degree. It’s about you. The Harvard degree might get your foot in the door, but it is YOU that keeps the job and receives promotions.
  2. Keep your cost of living as low as possible. When I was in school, I witnessed a good deal of my friends blow their money on going out to eat almost every night, drinking and clubbing every weekend, and buying clothes and other unnecessary things for their apartment. If you decide to not work while in college, then you should be the one that really tightens up on your budget. Too often I saw the students that didn’t work were the ones that went out to eat every night. One great way to save on rent is to find an older house for about $1000 to $1200 a month and split the rent four ways with three other roommates. Here’s a novel idea, pack a lunch to eat between classes! It’s those simple things that will allow you to keep your expenses very minimal while getting your degree and allow you to pay as you go.
  3. Get a job while in school. Working while in school is very feasible. Don’t cry to me that your workload is too strenuous. My wife was a pre-med major for her undergraduate degree and she worked 30 hours a week serving at Olive Garden. I delivered food, worked on campus, and worked some other various jobs while in school. I always had at least one job during school. UPS offers a great tuition reimbursement program. You can work part-time for UPS as a delivery driver, and they will literally pay for all of your tuition while you are working for them. You can work 25 to 35 hours a week and still have plenty of time to study and have a social life. It’s all about your time management. Time management is not a course in college, but it should be!
  4. Find creative ways to make extra income. This is a great segway to my next principle. Read my next article about creative ways to boost your income. I used a few different ways to make extra cash for going out, paying utilities, and paying for gas.

Erik Folgate
Erik and his wife, Lindzee, live in Orlando, Florida with a baby boy on the way. Erik works as an account manager for a marketing company, and considers counseling friends, family and the readers of Money Crashers his personal ministry to others. Erik became passionate about personal finance and helping others make wise financial decisions after racking up over $20k in credit card and student loan debt within the first two years of college.

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  • Diana S.

    Any body with any ideas on how to make a soon to be 20 year old understand her Parents or at least her Dad is 2 years from retirement and she was 1 of 8 kids. Granted she is next to the last but we are just now beginning to breathe and be able to save a little and we now have her interest payments for her loans that we are paying on. In my book we might as well be paying the loans…because she just does not get it. I have tried to explain to her that I met a woman today who turns 30 in just a few short weeks. She is still living with her Parents due to the fact she cannot pay off her student loans. She just lost her job 6 months ago and still has 37,000.00 loan debt left. She is overqualified for most jobs but underqualified for some because she does not have years of experience under her belt. I have tried to tell my child of her demise…she now is threatening me with she will join the Service and Uncle Sam will pay for her to go to her Private Christian College…I told her they lie…she said we will see. I do not want her going to the Service…but, in the same token I do not want to have to live in a Cardboard Box in my retirement years…just because we can breathe and save a few pennies I do not think she should be taking them away from us. Her sister on the other hand says she will go to a Community college and have just as good of an education…I believe her! Can anyone relate on the Service paying for your education to a college you have chosen to go to??? Please let me know…ASAP Put in subject line COLLEGE HELP…thanks, Diana S.

  • Sandra

    I work at a college and I tell my relatives and friends children to do everything they can to keep from getting student loans. I tell them that these loans will become a mill stone around their necks. Yes, it may be necessary at some point, but keep it as minimal as absolutely possible. Grants and scholarships work but AVOID student loans!

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