How I survived college without student loans…until I cracked
In my early college days, I had made up my mind that I was not going to fall into the student loans trap. I never knew a lot about the loans but in my heart and mind, I knew there were just bad. That was enough to kick me into survival mode.When I was in school for finance, I was lucky to have a scholarship and so I did not take any loans. Fast forward to nursing school, I experienced first hand the pain of paying tuition.
I paid my tuition when I did my nursing pre-requisites.However, it was not easy because I only had one job that was paying me a little bit over 1k per month. I had to eat, pay rent, insurance, gas up and all those good things and so nothing much was left. But somehow I was able to pull it off. I was able to save some money every month by doing simple stuff. Here is what I did;
- I went to a community college instead of the local university or trade schools – Community colleges are inexpensive compared to other colleges and universities and they do provide quality education due to small class sizes.The tuition at that time was not going to be over $2000/semester regardless of how many credits you take.The private business college I attended was $5500/ semester.
- Attend as a part-time student – I wanted to finish school quickly but I could not afford being full-time. It was not also a big enough reason for me to take student loans. Every semester, I did 8 credits instead of 12 or more. However, I was able to accelerate the process by going to summer school before joining the nursing program.
- Set up a payment plan with the business office- Every semester, I contacted the business office and we made arrangements for me to pay my tuition in 3 installments.
- Make my first payment on registration – Once I made the first payment, I knew my class was secure and even if I was not able to make my other payments on time, they could not drop me from the class. However, I had to make sure I pay everything before registration for the next semester opens because I would not be able to register for any classes. In my college, all science classes like microbiology and Anatomy and Physiology filled up fast and so you had to register on the first day to get a seat.
- Bundle up classes – I have seen students attend school everyday of the week. I made sure my classes were in such a way that I would only attend twice which saved me gas and an eat out at the cafeteria.
- Car pool – Whenever possible, I would car pool with friends.
- Rent a room instead of an apartment – By the time I finished nursing school, I was married. However, during my single days, I rented a room and I used to pay $350 per month.
- Borrow books or buy used straight from students – I had some great friends who would give me their books if they did the class before me. I would also buy used books from students because I would pay them better than the college book store who in turn inflate the price of the book.
- Work Overtime – I used o actively seek overtime at my job and that would give me some extra cash.
All these things helped me save some little money which added up and helped me pay my tuition. Others were just smart tactics. All in all I made it. However, a lot changed in life including getting married and so my responsibilities increased. Nursing school program is known for being tough and rigorous and so as a student you have to avoid any distractions. When I got accepted in the nursing program, I applied for student loans so that I would only concentrate on my studies. I was able to complete my the program stress free financially and even if I am repaying the loan now, I do not have regrets.
What are some of the things you did in college to save money or get by?
Special Mention: A big thanks to Ramona from Dojo Blog for including my post in her Money & Personal Finance: top articles this week (5)