How to Pay for College Before You Even Graduate!

College. While those years had some of the best memories for me, I can remember the agony and angst leading up to the decision of WHERE TO GO TO SCHOOL. There are so many factors that go into making this decision and while it shouldn’t be made lightly, I fully understand how overwhelming this can be (especially when you have added family pressures added to the mix).

Going to school, for most of us, requires quite a bit of debt to be taken on. Yes, I am talking about that dreaded conversation of “financing your college education”… the one you have probably been avoiding for quite some time.

Debt in generally is a pretty scary topic. Student debt can be even more overwhelming. As I mentioned in my post on how I paid of my student loans, a lot of potential/future students see that large number they will owe at the end of their 4-years and stray away from the school of their dreams. While every situation is different, and college may not be for everyone – take Steve for example – you should fully analyze all of your options before making a rash decision.

There are an extraordinary amount of resources available to potential students both online, at your local high school or potential college/university. This means THERE IS NO EXCUSES. Take advantage what people have already laid out for you. And as I always say, it never hurts to ask!

As a student who graduated with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree, I’ve unfortunately have been down the road which encompassed student loans… it wasn’t fun and it sure wasn’t pretty. My hopes of sharing my story with you is to help you avoid the stereotypical student saga of drowning in debt after graduation.

In order to pay for these next four years, I knew nothing was going to be handed to me. I took on debt (student loans), worked on campus through work study programs, and found several jobs off-campus throughout my four years. While this was definitely time consuming and inconvenient at times, I can honestly say it was the smartest decision I had made. I was able to graduate from Bentley EARLY (with a dual-undergraduate degree and Master’s) with just under $40,000 worth of debt. While this was still a LARGE number by any standards, it was definitely more manageable than my starting point. While my methods may not be for everyone, I am hoping this little bit of advice will help YOU make the decision which is BEST FOR YOU!

Things I did BEFORE COLLEGE to help:

  • Hustle: I think I LIVED at our high school guidance counselor’s office; constantly badgering about different scholarship opportunities our community had or even national scholarships that I was eligible. In the end, I probably applied to at least 30 scholarships. Granted, I obviously was not awarded all of them, but I was surprised at just how many I did receive. Even if they were only $250-$500, that pays for your books for a semester or potentially the year if you spend it wisely! Even throughout college, I constantly searched for new scholarships I was eligible for – this pool is constantly evolving so don’t stop searching and applying! This also goes for your financial aid package from your school; this can change each year so make sure you are in constant contact with your financial aid office! You can follow-up with them to see what scholarships/grants you weren’t eligible and how you could change that for future years!
  • Work: Yes, we all want to indulge in the final years of high school making memories with our friends. But, let’s face it while those experiences are irreplaceable, that’s not going to pay the bills. I babysat two nights a week after my sport’s practices and then worked during the summer. This extra cash definitely added up and helped pay for my groceries/gas while at school. Living expenses ARE A FACTOR of your college costs, something we sometimes forget.
  • Research: While going to the school of your dreams is super important, you must make sure it also offers the courses you need for your degree. There was one school I absolutely fell in love with during our tour, but they were not accredited in accounting. While, I wasn’t positive that this is the path I wanted to go down, I knew that something as big as earning a degree from an accredited college in this field was something important. In addition to the courses offered, make sure you full understand all of the fees involved with each school for an apples to apples comparison; make an Excel spreadsheet.

Things I did IN COLLEGE to help:

  • Work on Campus: I worked in the accounts payable office a minimum of 8 hours per week. While my work-study provided 8 hours, I would constantly ask the department if they needed extra assistance, if another student called-out could I pick-up their hours, etc. The little bit made the difference and I would say I averaged at least 10 hours per week (2 hours more! An extra roughly $20; remember EVERY DOLLAR COUNTS – literally)
  • Work off Campus: While as a freshman, finding a part-time internship around my college was difficult, I was able to secure a babysitting job. Unfortunately, freshmen were not allowed to have cars, except for unique situations. This was not one of them. SO, this babysitting-gig was approximately 1.5 miles from campus. I WALKED. It got me exercise and alleviated having to go to the gym as much J win-win. After my freshman year, I was able to find other internship opportunities, which made slightly more $, but also helped me build a stellar resume for graduation. My 3rd year at school, I even worked 2-3 days per week from 7:00AM – 5:00PM and then went directly to class (night classes were offered where they met only once per week from 6:30PM – 9:50PM).
  • Get a Summer Job: During the summer, I tried to find jobs that would help make me the most cash. Since I had internships during the school year, I was less concerned about building my resume *(my only summer business internship was my junior going into senior year summer). I became a full-time babysitter for a lovely family 2-towns over from where my family lived, which was only about a 20-minute drive each way. It was great and I cherish those summers!

Do you have any suggestions for a future or current college student???


  1. Ravi Chahar (@ravichahar27) | 28th Apr 17

    Hey Courtney,

    College time is one of best times of our life. We all enjoy, have some unforgettable memories but when it comes to pay for its semester books and all, it can be scary.

    Working is the option everyone should choose. Maybe people can work part time to earn some extra money.


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