College is one of the greatest opportunities available to American students. In many families, it is just expected that kid will graduate from high school and head off to college in order to learn a marketable skill, earn a degree and land a well-paying job that will enable them to be productive members of society. For other families, college is a dream to reach and strive for, not an assumed right. These students see college as their ticket to a better life and a way out of a tough situation.
For anyone, college or career school can be a huge benefit. Education is one of the most valuable assets you can acquire, and it is worth doing everything in your power to make it happen. The biggest hurdle for most students is financial – college simply costs a lot of money. The average total cost to attend a public four-year college (such as a state university) is about $20,000 per academic year. If you want to attend a private school, bump that number up to a minimum of about $30,000 per academic year.
While many families have saved for years for college, most families clearly do not have $100,000 or more just sitting in a savings account waiting to be transferred to the school you or your child chooses. Thus, most college students end up paying for their schooling by cobbling together funding from a mix of sources: college savings accounts, monthly or yearly family contributions, grants, scholarships and loans.
Loans should be the last resort for college students because loans must be paid back, with interest. Graduating college with thousands of [...]