How to Graduate Debt Free

Apply down:  My son, with Ivy League credentials, took a full academic scholarship to Rutgers.  Many school are willing to give students substantial merit scholarships, but you’ve got to consider attending a college which would be a safety school.
Start at community college.  Almost all the tuition and fees at community college are covered by Pell grants for low-income students and working while attending college.
Earn college credits in high school:  Either through AP courses, community college courses or on-line college courses.

If low income and high ability, apply to well-endowed colleges, particularly those who do not require students to take out loans as part of the financial aid package.  Students with a $0 Expected Family Contribution can get full funding.
Do Income Based Repayment and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), which will forgive the loan after 10 years of payments.
Apply for as many local scholarships as possible.  Look for options with the least number of potential applicants.  
Commute, particularly to low cost programs like community colleges or CUNY colleges.
If low income, apply to programs like HEOP in NY or EOF in NJ that provide additional financial aid for low income applicants.
Consider low cost colleges.  Some colleges, like Minot State, charge out-of-state students the same as in-state students, with total costs, including room and board, under $12,000 per year.
Go to college in Germany, where college is free
Go into Peace Corps or Americorps, which will provide loan forgiveness options for at least some of college loans.
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Author: Scott White

I am a nationally recognized expert on college admissions, having worked in schools and colleges for 35 years. I have been regularly quoted in major publications including the NY Times, the LA Times, The Boston Globe, the Washington Post, Atlantic Monthly, Time Magazine and others. I am widely published on various aspects of the college admissions process and present at state and national conferences on a variety of college admissions related topics. I have worked in college admissions as well as independent day and boarding schools. The last 25 years I have worked in public schools, 14 as a school counselor and then as a Director of Guidance at elite, suburban public schools including Montclair High School, Westfield High School and Morristown High School. I am now an independent college counselor for SW College Consulting in Montclair. I can be contacted as swcollegeconsulting@gmail.com or 973-919-6798.

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