Student loans. They are taken out with the intent of lessening the burden of students as they attend ridiculously expensive post-secondary programs. Founded on the principle that you get the money now and you pay it back later, they often pile up so high that you can’t imagine ever being free of debt.
Needless to say, there are dozens of logical reasons to not take on loans. You may be prideful and insist on doing things on your own. You may not be eligible. You may not be willing to deal with the insurmountable debt that follows taking out government-sponsored financial aid. Whatever the reason, you are in a situation where you will be attending a post-secondary program without student loans – something that is practically unheard of in this day and age.
Keep It Local
Spread your enthusiasm for school far and wide. The more you talk about how excited you are for school, and how you’re even more excited to find out-of-the-way scholarships, the more people will be able to help you out. You never know who may have a connection to an obscure grant or scholarship opportunity, and they may never know that you’re on the lookout.
If you’re nervous about asking around for money, you can always take a less direct approach when talking to family friends, dentists, shop owners and whoever else might cross your path. Asking for advice is always easier than asking for money and will illicit a more positive response. As a general rule, people want other people to succeed, and you’d be surprised who in your community can help you.
Work It Out
Three jobs, took years to save, but I got a ticket on that plane. People got a lot to say, but don’t know sh*t bout where I was made, or how many floors that I have to scrub just to make it past where I am from. I’ve been up all night, trying to get that rich, working my sh*t. – Iggy Azalea, “Work”
Achieving highly set goals and following your dreams requires an immense amount of work and sacrifice. Though Iggy Azalea is a performer rapping about her dedication to her music career, she makes a good point about how much effort becoming the person you want to be is. Maintaining focus throughout lectures, disciplining yourself enough to complete assignments, and studying material that sometimes can escape comprehension are all difficult tasks. Any full-time student is likely to have more on their plate than they can handle. Throwing a part-time job into the mix sounds like too much when you write it down on paper.
When that route is necessary, students often turn to the restaurant industry, which has it’s pros and cons. While the jobs are plentiful and the tips can be excellent, working in the service industry in that capacity can be draining and disheartening. However, with the right crew and the right management, a restaurant will not only pay your rent, but will also serve as a family of sorts. When paving your own way through school, a strong support system outside of your network of classmates and professors is invaluable.
Working in the food industry isn’t your only option, however. Campuses hire receptionists. Libraries and recreation centers often hire student clerks. Nursing homes and care facilities are known to pay their cleaners and are accommodating schedule-wise.
One of the hardest things can be to save money for your pre-post-secondary. Receiving a paycheck is a complete and utter thrill, and it’s hard to not take that adrenaline rush and blow all of the hard-earned cash that you have made. If possible, arrange with your bank to automatically save 50% of your paychecks into a savings account. When it comes down to it, you don’t need that Venti Pumpkin Spice Latte, whereas you do need to pay your tuition.
Spread the Sheets
Budgeting has the potential to be more difficult than your coursework. Microsoft Excel and similar programs have built-in budgeting templates that are easy to customize and navigate through. When budgeting, you have to remember that honesty is the best policy. Be brutality honest when writing down your expenses. Terrifying as it is, checking bank and credit card statements is something that cannot be ignored. You have to be self-aware of your spending and where your monetary weaknesses lie. If you know exactly how much money you need, it’ll be far easier to find it.
School can be rough. Doing it all on your own can be even rougher. However, when you manage to get through school entirely debt-free and independent, you will be free to pursue higher goals in life and be able to live without the shackles of debt. You got this.