Friday, December 1, 2017

Graduating Debt Free: Can It Really Be Done?

debt less education
It's a very modern Catch 22. We recognise the value of a degree - not just for what it can do for our future career prospects and personal development but also for the value of learning in itself - but the crippling costs of tuition fees and independent living are excluding many people, especially those from less privileged backgrounds, even as targets are set to try and increase the diversity of university populations. But is it possible to gain an education without emerging crippled by debt? We take a look…

Finding Scholarships

Scholarships and bursaries are the surest route to take of the majority or all of your tuition costs - but how do you know where to start? What’s available to you is highly specific and depends on the course you study, the institution you choose to study at, your personal circumstances, interests and abilities. Start by taking a look at a scholarships portal or contact universities you are interested in to scope out what’s available. Start your search early, as many schemes will have strict application deadlines. As your credentials and predicted grades will change over time, check regularly for new schemes you may become eligible for. It may also be worth checking in with charitable foundations that support education, particularly if you have a religious affiliation.

Employer-Sponsored Subjects

If you are interested in certain subjects where there is a big demand for knowledgeable graduates, such as engineering or business management, you may be able to find courses partly or wholly sponsored by the employer. Imagine- a tuition-fee free degree! They usually come with a condition of employment attached as well, solving the dilemma of finding that first graduate level job. Many will include practical modules working in the business which gives a solid practical experience. But you may have to be flexible on exactly what you study and specialise in. Graduating with no debt, earning a higher than average graduate salary is certainly worth looking at a change of subject for!

Working life as a student

Depending on your course of study, you may be able to combine working and earning a salary with your other commitments. A wide range of subjects offer the option to take the course part-time, leaving time for work as well. If you’re already in a job, there are complementary degree options from postgraduate business qualifications to a policing program designed for actively serving police officers - so learning can fit around the job. Many students choose to study full time and then work in part time jobs that fit around their study too- but this is a choice that needs to be carefully managed as it can lead quickly to burnout.

Whichever route you choose, studying without being saddled with debt is difficult- but not impossible. If you’re committed, a little flexible in your choice of degree and just after the quickest route into a well paying graduate job, with a little research and hard work it’s possible to get that mortar board without a loan statement attached.

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