Funding College: Tame the Student Loan Beast

Tame the Student Loan BeastBy Jacob Merkley


Growing up, I worked really hard to save my money.  I had a part-time job growing up and really tried to put away as much as I could.  I wasn’t a “budgeter” by any stretch of the imagination; however, I did have goals and dreams and one day wanted to go to school, get married, and start a family.

All of you have your own goals.  What are they?  Do you want to go to college?  Or perhaps you want to go to trade school and learn a specific skill?  Regardless of which direction you go, the reality these days is that it will cost money…and in many instances, a lot of it too.

Tame the Student Loan Beast

I want to suggest a few ways that you can prevent yourself from walking away from school with thousands and thousands of dollars in debt.  While getting a student loan is certainly a way to help you advance in life, I also believe that minimizing the total amount that you have to take out to go to school will greatly impact your future after college or trade school.

Here are three quick tips to help you save money now and ultimately lower the amount of debt you need to take out to complete this huge accomplishment.

Tip #1 – Get a job; work hard.

My first tip is to get a job while you are in high schoolGet a job anywhere that you can.  Start working and saving money.  Put as much as you can away for your future.  Because I worked hard during high school, I had almost $10,000 saved by the time I graduated high school.  As you can imagine, that helped me a ton with kick starting my post-high school education without taking out a loan.

After you start college or trade school, consider keeping a part-time job.  Work as many hours as you can, while still getting your education done.  Now that you have a few years of work experience, you can demand a better income from your employer.  Or you can switch jobs to something that will pay a bit better.

Working at least part time during college will help your cash flow.  This is the number one reason why I graduated college debt free.  You will tame the student loan beast and minimize the total amount you have to take out for school.

Tip #2 – Dual-Enrollment Classes

Most high schools and local colleges work together to give students an opportunity to get college credits while in high school.  Often times it is free, and if not free, then it’s relatively inexpensive compared to the rates you would pay if you were a college student.  There are also trade-schools that you can go to that will give you high school credit and give you a skill that you can get a job after high school.

Think about it… a little extra work, a few extra tests, a minimal fee and you have college credits or a trade skill while in high school.  Not only will this save time later and you can advance more quickly, but you will also save money too.

Tip #3 – Consider waiting one year

Every college recruiter and high school advisor will hate me when I say this…but consider waiting one year before you start school.  I don’t think there is any shame in getting a full-time job right out of high school and saving up before going to college or trade school.

Just think.  If you went into the real world with a high school diploma, you could get at least a $10/hour job.  If you worked 40 hours each week for one year straight, then you would have earned $20,800 before taxes.  If you were able to live at home still (or get some roommates), then you would save some serious cash to put towards school.

One caution is that if you don’t go right into school, you may never go.  Just keep your heart and mind on the long game… and you’ll get there if you just tame the student loan beast first.


I never wanted to go into debt for college.  I wanted to graduate debt free.  It took a lot of time and energy to get my goal.  I believe you can tame the student loan beast, too.  Get a job in high school and continue to work in college.  Consider doing a trade school or college credits in high school.  Finally, if you really want to save for school, then wait one year.  Get a jump start on saving money before you start the next phase of your life.  Ultimately, keep your goal in mind and you will one day get there!

Jacob Merkley is a full-time blogger who started in the accounting, financial, and retirement realms before switching to working online.  Now he focuses on teaching others about Life Skills that put YOU in control, including the important principles of money management.  He blogs over at PowerOverLife.

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