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February 14, 2010

“My Experience in . . .” Series Part I Paying for College

Filed under: Personal Finance, Real Example, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — thebalancedspreadsheet @ 12:05 pm

Well after the success of the Financial “How to . . . .” series in January, I thought I would start a new series for the month of February titled “My experience in . . .”  Topics will include paying for college, buying a house, and paying for a wedding.  This series is not being done because I am an expert on these topics, but because I have done these events and have made my share of mistakes in each. 🙂  My goal is that you find these posts informative and might learn from one or two of my mistakes .  Today’s topic is my experience in paying for college.

Back when I graduated from high school in 2000 I really had no idea where I wanted to go to college.  Accounting was something I was always interested in because I had taken it for three years in high school, and it came naturally to me and I really enjoyed it.  I eventually enrolled at one of The Ohio State University’s branch campuses close to home and started taking classes during the day while working at night.  I paid for classes and books out of my account and after my sophomore year transferred to the main campus in Columbus.  There I continued to work nights and weekends while paying for tuition and board and two years later I graduated from Ohio State with my degree in accounting not only in four years, but also completely debt free!

There were several keys that enabled me to be able to pay for college.  The first was that I picked a school that I could actually afford.  For my budget, public school was the only option.  Now I am not advocating that everyone must to go the Big State University.  But you have to do a cost benefit analysis when considering the price of college.  With private schools costing anywhere between two to four times that of a public school you have to ask yourself, do you think that your starting salary will be double that of someone who has a public school degree? 

The second key was that I lived at home my first two years at the branch campus and simply commuted each day.  Granted that was not always easy at times but I estimated I saved about $12,000 over two years that way.  Most big schools and technical schools have branch campuses now that make it very easy to commute and live at home for the first few years.  In addition to saving money on living costs, the branch campus usually offers cheaper tuition than the main campus.

Finally, the last key was that student loans were never an option.  Therefore I only had one option and that was to work; and work a lot.  My parents gave me a grant: They granted me the right to work. 🙂 And you know what?  Most people do work while in college.  I averaged anywhere between 25-30 hours a week while school was in session and around 40 hours a week while on break.  I still had fun and a social life and I think it even made me appreciate my education even more. 

While the above is what I did to pay for college is certainly not the be all end all when it comes to paying for college as there are plenty of other options to choose.  The first is scholarships.  There are plenty of scholarships out there; you just need to apply for a lot of them instead of just one or two.  You might not land the big $10,000 scholarship, but a few $500 scholarships add up pretty quickly.  Another way is by going to college part-time as a Junior or Senior in High School.  As mentioned in a recent New York Times article this is a growing trend as it allow students to get a head start in their education at a fraction of the cost.  Finally, if you are a parent, you can plan with your child on how to pay for college.  College should not sneak up on anyone, you know when your child is graduating so be ready and start thinking now instead of the summer after they graduate.

I know statistically about 2/3rd of graduating undergrad students have student loans, but I do believe that going to school debt free is possible.  Granted tuition does keep increasing but with a little planning ahead of time plus some hard work either in the classroom or in the work force, you can go throughout school without any loans.  Next time we will talk about My Experience in purchasing a home!


1 Comment »

  1. […] PDRTJS_settings_702890_post_897 = { "id" : "702890", "unique_id" : "wp-post-897", "title" : "%E2%80%9CMy+Experience+in+.+.+.%E2%80%9D+Series+Part+II+Purchasing+a+Home", "item_id" : "_post_897", "permalink" : "" } Part I-Paying for College […]

    Pingback by “My Experience in . . .” Series Part II Purchasing a Home « The Balanced Spreadsheet-Financial News, Advice, tips, and more — February 20, 2010 @ 9:38 am

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