9 Money Tips That Will Help You Avoid College Debt

#Chasepartner Today’s blog post is sponsored by Chase. All opinions are my own. 

I can’t believe how fast my first 12 and a half years of parenting have gone. Jayda hasn’t even  started high school yet, but we’ve had a lot of discussions about college. Partly because she’s seen one of her aunts go off to college, and another getting ready to go. My little sister Kimberly, who I’ve watched grow up these last 17 years! My parents didn’t have the same resources at hand that we do to learn and prepare for our kids’ college expenses. Luckily, I was still able to  go to an affordable University, apply for grants and scholarships, work through college and ultimately graduate debt free.  

College bound-high schooler standing in a formal dress next to a younger girl in a blue dress. Both are smiling and listening to advice about avoiding college debt.

My youngest sister Kimberly recently got accepted to my Alma Mater and she heading off to  school this month. She’s asked me for some money tips as she heads off on her own for the first time. She’d like to go to school and graduate with no (or little) college debt. Student loan debt is  in the news a lot and she’s hoping they aren’t something she has to even worry about when she  finishes school. 

This isn’t meant to be financial guidance, just some tips I’m sharing with my sister and using with  my kids to prepare them to go to college and graduate debt free. 

Before College 

1. Take dual credit classes: Often high school students can take AP or dual credit classes for  free. I’m looking at both homeschool and public school options for as many classes that count  for both high school and college. 

2. Save: While some parents, like my own, weren’t able to save years in advance for my college  tuition, I started saving as soon as I started my first job. It wasn’t enough to cover all of my  expenses but every little bit counts. With Chase First Banking, Jayda is already learning how to  separate her money from saving and spending. 

3. Go to a community college: Before transferring to a University I took classes at a local  community college, making sure my credits would transfer. It’s a great way to earn college credit  for significantly less money than University tuition and live at home to save money on room and  board. 

4. Make a budget: This is important both before you start college to establish the habit, and  during. I can’t stress how much keeping track of your money and tracking every dollar spent  makes a huge difference. With Chase College Checking you can access the Chase Mobile app and manage your money, see your accounts, pay your bills, and keep track of your money as  it’s coming and going. A budget lets you know exactly where your money is going before it’s gone so there are no surprises. 

During College 

5. Rent textbooks: A nice money saving tip for me when I was in college was finding used  textbooks for a fraction of the cost of new ones. I’d search message boards and found people  who were trying to offload their books after one semester for a good deal. With Chase College Checking you can use the Chase Mobile app to quickly send and receive money with Zelle. Comes in handy for buying things  like used textbooks! 

6. Apply for scholarships: After hearing about a girl who was able to get enough scholarships to  pay for her education, I was on a mission to do the same. I met with my counselors and applied  for every scholarship I qualified for that I could find. It paid off too because I was also able to pay for all of my college education (as well as room and board) with scholarship money. I’m encouraging my family to meet with counselors and seek out every resource on campus  available to help you get financial help.

7. Get a job: Whether working a part-time on campus job, delivering groceries on the side, or  working full time during breaks, having a job can help get work experience and stash some  funds for schooling. With Chase High School Checking and Chase College Checking you can get your paychecks directly deposited into your account so it hits right on payday.  

8. Take more credit hours: Working while going to school can be a lot to manage. If balancing  both at the same time is too hard, another option is to go all in on school and take more credit  hours. At my school, once you hit full time credit hours it didn’t cost more to add another class  (Aside from books). Sometimes I’d try to take an extra class or two to get more bang for my buck. If timed right, someone could graduate earlier and cut extra room and board expenses as  well. 

9. Eat in: Eating out is fun, but it adds up quick. One of the easiest ways for me to cut back on  my budget is to look how much I’m spending on food and where. I’m not saying to live off ramen  for four years, but some simple meal planning in the short term can add up in the long term. 

I know this is A LOT of information and might sound daunting, especially because college life  can get so expensive. The point is to be mindful about your choices before spending money.  Having even just a little saved, delaying starting school to save, or considering different options  for schools. Sometimes you might still have to take out a loan. Don’t panic. As long as you do  your best to limit the amount of money you borrow you will have less to repay later. The key is  to avoid getting burdened with so much debt that will take years and years to pay off. 

You’ve got this kid! 

Get a head start reaching your goals with Student tips, tools and resources to help you gain  financial independence. Go to Chase.com/jennifer to see financial products and Resources that  can help give you the freedom to grow along your financial journey. 

JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. Member FDIC


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Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget

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I'm a former journalist, and lifelong creator striving to make the world a better place. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day by cherishing our individuality and celebrating our differences.



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