Alternatives to Student Loans

The Never-Ending Problem

Student loan debt in the U.S. has reached more than $1.3 trillion — including both federal and private student loans. Everybody knows that college is not cheap and it’s probably not going to get cheaper either. The cost keeps going up annually.

Students use Federal Student Loans to help them pay their way through school, but that money doesn’t always cover the complete cost. We see students graduating college and being tens of thousands of dollars in debt and with little or no hope of paying it off anytime soon.

Students can opt for private loans, but they are usually at a higher interest rate and with late payment fees and perhaps other terms and conditions that make them a less favorable choice compared to Federal Loans.

What Else Can You Do?

Are there any alternatives? Well, there are, if you are prepared to look around and be happy with doing something different to your fellow students. You can find ways to pay your tuition and not finish your studies buried in student loan debt. It may make life a little more complicated at times, but for many people, that can be a much better choice than getting stuck with debt for decades.

Ways to Pay For College

Back in the days before there were student loans, one of the few ways to get through college was to work part-time. That remains an option, and in some ways is a better preparation for post-college life than simply being a student with few life skills to help you survive the first couple of years. Some of the most common student jobs included the following:

Fast Food Employee

You have so many choices that you can base your decision on what you like to eat. If you love pizza then Pizza Hut or Dominoes have openings for food preparation, customer service, and deliveries. McDonald’s and Burger King may not be as bad as they sound. Let’s face it, your degree in Ancient Arts could see you flipping burgers anyway!

Car Wash

Many of the automatic car wash places hire people to either pre-prepare the cars before they enter the wash bay or aftercare, for wiping down, turning mirrors and putting up car aerials. Not much pay, but lots of exercising.

Night Fill

Most supermarkets hire staff to refill store shelves at night after the store has closed. This option is one of the best part-time jobs because of the pay level, and the fact that you are virtually working without supervision. Working at night can be exciting, especially if you are in a supermarket like Walmart that sells toys and sporting goods. However, this option is not so good if there is an outbreak of zombie plague and you know nothing about it until it’s time to knock off work and leave the store.


This is not a place to work if you love beer – a lot of it, or you are alcoholically inclined. But, for a pleasant work atmosphere and being able to meet a lot of interesting (or boringly sad) people, it will help pay the bills.
reasons to tip barman


This is the primary ‘go to’ part-time job that students don’t mind. You can become quite good at this and rake in a lot of tips. You learn about food presentation, cooking, customer service, wines and how to handle money. For a student doing a degree in hospitality, this job should be the first choice.

Poor Me

If your parents aren’t wealthy and you have to work part-time to cover your tuition fees, you will continuously be in a state of “need” for money. If you have to rent an apartment or room, have your transport (motorcycle or car), and you have to eat, drink, sleep, be entertained, and manage a relationship, your studies can sometimes take second or third place in your priorities.

Not everybody has the option of attending college and living at home either. As a student, your local, or closest college, may not admit you, or, it doesn’t have the type studies you need for your career aspirations. If you are trying to do most of these things with no support, then the daily scrimping and saving of every possible dollar become not only an obsession but also a matter of survival.

Money Saving Hacks for Students

  • Borrow your textbooks from the library.
  • Starbucks offers free coffee refills. Study at Starbucks all day and stay high on caffeine.
  • Beef up your Ramen noodles by adding an egg or two. Cheap, and extra protein anyway.
  • Take snacks to eat on campus if you’re going to have lectures all day. Cafeteria food is expensive.
  • Don’t turn your nose up at coupons. Cut them out and use them. You can save a lot.

These are just a few simple ideas out of hundreds of different ways to save money and get an education. Also, it helps toughen you up for post-student life which, rumor has it, is even harder!

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