Alternative Ways to Pay for College to Avoid Student Loan Debt

Think carefully before only applying for student loans to cover the cost for college tuition.

Are student loans a safe and financially smart way to pay for college? Think carefully before only applying for student loans to cover the cost for college tuition. We highly recommend considering alternative ways rather than going into debt for thousands of dollars that will take years to pay off. There are several other options for students to utilize including grants, tuition installment plans, scholarships, crowdfunding, Federal Student Aid (known as FAFSA) work-study programs and part-time jobs all offer you money that you don’t have to pay back. 

One of the most common credit blemishes we encounter when reviewing credit challenged clients is student loan debt. They are generally over five figures and take decades for someone to pay off. The average college graduate owes $29,200 in student loans. According to NerdWallet’s 2018 household debt study, the average U.S. household with student debt owes $47,671. The total amount of outstanding student loans reached an all-time high in 2019, at $1.41 trillion, according to Experian. That’s an 6% increase from 2018 and a 33% increase since 2014. 

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As a parent, the future financial well-being of your children is something to consider. Student loans alone cannot prevent them from getting a mortgage, however the effect of the student loan on their debt-to-income ratio can have an impact. If the amount of student loan debt pushes them past the lender’s debt-to-income threshold, the student loans may prevent them from qualifying for a home loan.    

8 Alternatives to student loans: 

1) Payment Plans or Tuition Installment Plans  

Tuition installment plans provide an alternative for families who can afford to pay for a child’s college education, but not in one large lump sum at the beginning of a semester or quarter. Tuition installment plans, also called tuition payment plans or deferred payment plans, split college costs into equal monthly payments. This makes budgeting for college costs more manageable. You can find detailed information about tuition installment plans at

2) Scholarships

Scholarships are gifts. They don’t need to be repaid. There are thousands of them, offered by schools, employers, individuals, private companies, nonprofits, communities, religious groups, and professional and social organizationsFor more information on scholarships check out

3) Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from many people, typically via the internet. For more information on Crowdfunding go to

4) Grants 

Grants for college students fall across two broad categories, depending on what eligibility requirements are attached to the funds. Need-based grants are issued to students exhibiting the greatest levels of financial hardship in paying for college. On the other hand, merit-based grants are tied to performance such as good grades and other personal achievements. For more information on the grants that are available and how to apply go to 

5) Work Study

Work study is a federally and sometimes state-funded program that helps college students with financial need get part-time jobs. Work studies won’t cover all your college costhowever, they can help eliminate the need for as many student loans. For more information to find out what a work study is check out 

6) Attend a Trade School

A trade school, also referred to as a vocational school, technical school or vocational college, is a post-secondary institution that’s designed to give students the technical skills to prepare them for a specific occupation. For more information and career paths by going to a trade school check out

7) Join the Military

The Military offers many educational benefits that service members can take advantage of during or after service. From financial aid and college funds to loan repayment programs, there have never been more ways for service members to afford and further their education. For more information on how the military can pay for college tuition check out

8) Good, Old Fashioned Hard Work

Working a part-time job, saving and living frugally while attending college can help students budget their money more effectively. Although these options may not cover every cost, using resources other than student loans to pay for expenses reduces the amount of debt you’ll be paying back long after your dorm days. 

What to remember: There can be lifestyle sacrifices made now to afford a much better life later. These next 2, 4, 6 years is very temporary in the grand scheme of things  of a person’s overall life. There are several alternatives to choose from when it comes to choosing your financial payment plans for college. Sacrificing, thinking outside the box, being aware of financial pit falls and avoiding them now, during these college years, can save students from many financial burdens and struggles in the future when applying for large loans or mortgages. 


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