Student loan debt has reached an all-time high this year, coming close to 1.6 trillion dollars.

Some families even opt into a 30-year repayment plan. That’s why a lot of families stay in debt for their entire lives.

And with the cost of tuition increasing each year, it may seem like paying for college without student loans would be impossible. But think again.

The good news is that it is absolutely possible to come out of college without any debt looming over your head. All it takes is some research, dedication, and the willingness to make it happen.

If you are currently anxious about how to pay for college without applying for student loans, let’s look at some different options.

Pay for College With Your Own Savings

One of the best-known ways to stay out of debt is to save enough money to pay for certain expenses outright. And college is no exception.

If are able to save enough money before you even apply for college, you will completely eliminate the need to apply for student loans.

Paying for college completely out of pocket, however, is way easier said than done. If this doesn’t seem like a possibility for you, no worries. You have other options!

Start at a Community College

Starting at a Community College for the first two years of college the cheaper way to go.

Community Colleges offer the same pre-requisite courses as major universities and at much cheaper rates. You will ultimately receive the same education at a much lower cost.

At a Community College, you can save a ton of money for the first two years and then transfer to a school that offers a Bachelor’s Degree to finish the other two years.

Apply for In-State Colleges

Attending college is expensive in general, but you will pay a premium if you are looking to enroll in an out-of-state college.

Some colleges even charge twice as much if you are attending from out of state.

The best option would be to choose and apply to in-state colleges to avoid the need to apply for student loans.

Make Smart Financial Decisions Throughout College

Making smart financial decisions throughout college is easier than it sounds but it does require you to make a few sacrifices.

For example, instead of buying brand new books from the bookstore each semester, try buying them used or even renting them.

Instead of buying a car, paying for a parking permit, and then driving back and forth to school every day, try riding a bike or carpooling.

The more costs you can cut throughout college, the easier it will be to afford it yourself.

Employer Reimbursement Programs

Some companies offer what’s called an Employer Reimbursement Program to their employees.

These programs allow employees to finish a semester of school and then submit their grades to their employer for potential reimbursement.

Keep in mind that some companies may only pay for half of the tuition, and most companies require that you maintain a high-grade level in each class to be eligible for reimbursement. Some may even require you to work for them for a specific period of time before being eligible as well.

Starbucks, Chipotle, and Home Depot are some companies that have amazing tuition reimbursement options.

When you start applying for jobs before or during college, make sure to check if they offer this benefit.

Apply for Grants and Scholarships

A smart option for getting through college without any student loan debt is applying for free money. Free money that you don’t have to pay back.

Grants can be found by applying for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA). These grants are typically provided based on financial need or on your specific degree/career choice.

Scholarships are different in the fact that they can be awarded for practically anything. Whether you enjoy playing chess, working on computers, or eat a special diet, chances are there are scholarships available for it.

There are billions of dollars available to those who complete a project, volunteer, or simply apply for them. You don’t need to have perfect grades or even be in financial need to be eligible for scholarships.

If you are consistent with applying for them, you may receive enough to pay for each semester without applying for any student loans at all.

Live at Home or Split Rent With Roommates

It may be tempting to move out right after high school to get the full “college experience”, but it is definitely more expensive this way.

If you are using all of your hard-earned money for rent and other expenses each month, you will have a lot less to save for tuition, books, and other college materials.

On the other hand, if you absolutely need to move out of your parent’s house right after high school, consider finding a roommate or two. This will tremendously cut down your own costs if you are able to split rent and utilities.

It’s also a good idea to start by living off-campus as well. Living in a dorm room can be double or triple the cost of off-campus living.

Work While You Go to School

Another option to pay for college without applying for student loans is to simply work while you are in school.

As stressful as it is to maintain proper grades while holding down a full-time (or even part-time) job, you will be able to use the extra money to help pay for your schooling.

Working during school also looks great on a resume as it shows you can multi-task and work hard.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are plenty of options to pay for college without applying for student loans.

Applying for student loans now might feel like the easy way to go, but you won’t feel that same way once you graduate and have a $350 payment each month for the next 10 years. This amount of debt can be overwhelming, no matter how you look at it.

You should make it a goal to graduate with zero (or very minimal) loan debt. If you do end up needing to apply for a few student loans, there are also options for paying off debt fast. But the ideal way to graduate would be debt-free.

By practicing the tips listed above, this is a very achievable goal.