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College graduates are graduating with higher debt owed on their degrees, the average debt has toppedĀ $25,000 according to CNN Money article. Because of the bad economy & lack of jobs (the unemployment rate is as high as 30%, among young people), more young people have had to rely on student loans. To minimize borrowing & ensure you still get a good college education, here are a few suggestions to funding higher education for your children and ensuring they graduate debt free.

First, choose a college carefully. Research college online using good websites such those listed below. They will rate the colleges, help you research the colleges you want, offer advice, free sign-up and a wealth of information on colleges, programs, student loans & scholarships. Open an account & spend time in each one getting familiar with it and researching for information.

Second, look for scholarships everywhere. Your college bound student can apply while in high school or college. They can use the accounts they create in the below resources. All of them allow you to search based on your stats & requirements. Make sure you also explore local scholarships such as your primary school, middle school or high school. Organizations such as the Urban league, local Kiwanis, Junior achievement, your company, local foundations or benefactors at your college of choice. Most will award based on major, needs, background, honor roll, awards, grades, etc. There is a scholarship for just about everyone. Some are small but every bit helps to pay for college. Finally, the key to scholarships, the money is yours to use for education, (you might have some rules to follow – such as use for tuition only) but you never need to pay it back.

Manage other expenses carefully – The big ones are textbooks which are expensive. You can rent for the semester or share books with a classmate, if you must, buy used books. Other expenses such as eating out, entertainment or buying things for your dorm or apartment can add up. Create a monthly budget, allocate for essentials & stick to it.

If you plan carefully, your young adult can graduate from a 4 year college, debt free. That way, they can start their lives without any encumbrances which can hang on for a long time and affect future plans.

There are many more resources to help you in your quest for college information, however, I have listed the more well known, comprehensive websites:

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