It was the summer before my Junior year of High School as I diligently filled out my college applications. I had my eye on one school in the Santa Barbara area, I was going to do everything I could to stand out and get accepted. The only gap in my plan was that this school cost over $50,000 per year.
Nonetheless, I applied because they offer a variety of scholarships including 4 full rides. I figured with my diverse and extensive resume and experiences I had a pretty good shot at many of them. I also wanted to leave as many doors open as possible because you never know what happens.
During this time I started listening to Dave Ramsey on the radio and eventually attended Financial Peace University, a 13 week course which teaches Dave’s principles which consist mainly of getting out of debt and preparing for the future. I was intrigued as I had always been interested in money, but had never heard ideas and principles like Dave Ramsey’s.
Fast forward a year to my senior year when I got accepted to my #1 College in Santa Barbara. I was estatic, but had a new perspective on both college and debt. I kindly declined attending, even though it was somewhat devastating.
I just couldn’t justify taking out over $100,000 in student loans over 4 years. I had seen the effects of having student loans from people around me. While also seeing the freedom of being debt free from those who have paid off their loans. To come out of college debt-free I am not only setting myself up for continued success, but I will be ahead of my peers who opted to take out student loans to attend their dream school.
Instead, I am attending a local community college which costs approximately $1,300 per year, not including books or living expenses. This community college is one of the best in California and has many great programs for students including an Honors Program and Academic Counseling to ensure you graduate in the most efficient way possible.
To be honest, the biggest challenge through this entire process has been changing my perspective on college. The most common questions I received was, “Why not go to a 4 year college?” along with “Did you not get accepted anywhere you applied?” I have had to explain that community college and then transferring to a 4 year university made the most financial sense in my case.
Its quite interesting how most people agreed with my reasoning behind it, yet still end up going straight to a 4 year university. Is it denial or entitlement? I personally think it is simply not having a game plan or having a full understanding that you have to pay back all the loans you take out. I am really excited to share my journey with you guys as I go through college while remaining debt free.
It should be a fun adventure and I hope you stop by regularly!