Limiting after-college debt is an awesome goal. For starters, work hard in high school to maintain a great GPA for academic scholarships. In addition to good grades, there are volunteer programs or local initiatives where community involvement, volunteering, and contests (writing, pictures, etc.) offer scholarships. Many high schools also offer options to begin taking college credit courses that will also count towards your high school credits. You can also look into state specific grants and scholarships to reduce your out of pocket costs.
When going to college, finding an in-state school will often offer the lowest tuition rate and you can make more of your money last longer by starting with a community college. Earning credits towards your first year or two will lower your tuition if done in a community college over a larger school.
Be be sure to complete your FASFA every year and look for careers that will reimburse your education expenses. The military offers a GI Bill and many other fields, i.e. nursing, pharmacy, etc., offer tuition repayment when your start your career.
Student loans should be the last resort.
Jared recommends the following next steps:
- Complete a FASFA
- Research careers for tuition reimbursement