Graduate debt free - Man holding a fan of money

Graduate Debt Free: Community College and Jobs in College

There are many ways to get through college without student loans. You could apply for scholarships, search for grants, talk to your school’s financial aid office, work, or go to a community college first. You can do any of these or all of them! I suggest all of them though. I talked about applying for scholarships and grants here.  

Today I am talking about how you can go to a community college or work to get through school without student loans.

How to Pay for College: Go to Community College For 2 Years

There are many community colleges around America that are significantly cheaper than four year schools. The average community college costs just $3,347 per year compared the average four year school which costs $9,139 per year! That is almost one third of the cost!

If you go to a community college for two years and work on all of your general education classes, think about how much money you will save! Double check that these classes will transfer to your four year school, but most do. You can save almost $12,000 just doing this.  Some states also offer free community college! If you live in one of these states, you should absolutely take full advantage of this.

Employers don’t usually look at where you started school, and it doesn’t appear on your diploma. Most employers will not care where you graduated from either, but the name of the school does appear on your diploma.

To break it down, here is a step-by-step guide of getting through college by going to community college for two years.

  1. Look at where you want to go after these two years. Check how many credits you can transfer into your program. See if it is affordable. Some state schools allow you to transfer a lot of credits from community college.
  2. Apply to the community college! Then pick your classes. Make sure that these classes will transfer to your potential four year school. If not, pick different classes.
  3. While you are going to community college, live as cheaply as you can. Live with your parents if possible. If it is not possible to live with your parents, then get a roommate. Work as much as you possibly can! Work 30+ hours per week! I will talk about how to do this further down.
  4. Apply to your four year school.
    1. A lot of state schools guarantee admission if you went to community college for a year or two.
  5. Continue to work and finish your time at your community college.
  6. Start at your four year school! Continue to work as much as you can while you are there.
  7. Graduate!

Going to community college is a great way to save TONS of money. It is very possible to do this for a couple of years before starting your four year school. As long as you work hard, and make sure your credits will transfer, you will be saving money.

How to Pay for College: Trade Schools

Trade schools are another great alternative to a four year college. There is a bad stigma around the idea of going to a trade school but there should not be! While they do not cost less per year than a traditional four year college, they typically only take two years to graduate from.

Graduate debt free - Man holding a fan of money

At trade schools you can study HVAC, mechanics, marketing, culinary, and many other careers.  This can be a great way to save a lot of money and start earning a better income sooner. Going to a trade school does not mean you should take out student loans, but it does mean that you will be able to make less money and still make it through school without student loans.

How to Pay for College: Make Money

We are living in the gig-economy where apps are popping up everywhere! Apps such as DoorDash, Uber, Lyft, Wag, Rover, GrubHub, and Postmates allow you to deliver food or people. These apps are great ways to make a lot of money if you work at them.

If you work for DoorDash, I would suggest also getting PostMates and GrubHub so that you can optimize your time to maximize your money. Get on all three apps at the same time and any time an order comes in on multiple apps, pick the highest paying one and turn down the rest. It will hurt your acceptance rate, but that will be okay in the long-run.

Uber and Lyft allow you to do the same thing! Pick the highest paying job to make the most of your time. These apps allow the rider to tip you after you get them to their destination so make sure you are pleasant in the car.

My favorite Money Making Apps

Other options for people with cars is working retail, being a server, bartender, or other similar jobs.

Working in retail gets you guaranteed hours that can help you get through college without student loans. Work for the company that is willing to pay you the most money. Once you have that job, continue to look for higher paying jobs. ALWAYS keep your eyes open.

Being a server or bartender is not easy work, but it is possibly the best paying out of all of these options. You can make great tips if you are willing to work on Friday and Saturday nights. The busier the better! Work as many hours as you can while still keeping up your grades.

Wag and Rover allow you to dogsit or walk dogs! Who doesn’t love dogs? Imagine if you could get paid to do this? Check out these apps that allow you to find local residents who are looking for somebody to walk their dogs.

Graduate Debt Free: Community College and Jobs in College 1

If You Don’t Have a Car but Still Want To Make Money In College, Check This Out!

If you do not have a car at school or don’t want to drive to work, then you still have plenty of options.

You could work for your university. Most colleges have students work serving food, doing janitorial duties, working as a secretary, etc. I personally worked at the credit union on campus. This job allowed me to learn about money, credit, credit cards, loans, and more.

Moving back to the gig-economy, there are apps such as Fiverr and Steady that allow you to work from your dorm room or apartment. You can be a virtual assistant, bookkeeper, digital marketing expert, or graphic designer. Check out these kinds of apps if you are looking for a quick job that can help you to build your resume.

Graduate College Debt Free!

There are many ways to pay for college without student loans! If you work hard and take debt off the table then you will be able to do it! You may not like it at the time, but a few years from now, you will be so thankful that you worked as hard as you did.