Sara Routhier, Managing Editor of Features and Outreach, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming worl...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florida. ...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Nov 26, 2012

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Yes, it is possible for people to go to college without a student loan. However, it is very difficult to do so.

Tuition costs have been rising, causing a steady increase in the average student loan debt. This trend is often referred to in the news as the Student Debt Crisis or the Student Loan Bubble. However, the news also discusses how dismal the job market is despite the recent small and steady improvements seen in job growth.

Due to the high cost of tuition, the rising cost of living, and the high rate of unemployment, prospective students may find it easier to borrow student loans instead of trying to pay for their education upfront. However, attending college without a student loan is still a viable option.

Prospective college students who had great high school grades may have a better chance of qualifying for academic scholarships. Similarly, an excellent record of athletic success in sports during high school can earn prospective college students athletic scholarships. Most scholarships pay for a sizable portion of tuition costs, which can be immensely helpful to students that have chosen not to borrow student loans.

Budgeting can really help students that want to attend college without student loans. By properly managing their personal finances and curbing any frivolous spending, students will be better able to manage their tuition costs and costs of living while pursuing their education.

Students can always decide to attend a less expensive college. A college’s cost should not be indicative of its value. Students may be wise to attend a more affordable two-year community college before transferring to a four-year university.

If students work part-time while also attending college classes part-time, they can save money on tuition costs while maintaining an income stream. Students working for a larger corporation may be able to ask their employer for tuition reimbursement.

Finally, prospective students with excellent records of academic success should look into grants. Like loans, grants give money to applicants. Unlike student loans though, grants do not have to be repaid, since they are essentially gifts from a sponsor.