shutterstock_183071588 copyThe average student loan debt for the graduating class of 2012 was $29,400 per student, according to the Institute for College Access & Success. That’s up from $26,600 per borrower in 2011. The burden of debt after graduation isn’t just a source of near-perpetual stress—it can prevent you from getting a mortgage or a car loan. You can get through all four years with little to no debt, however. Three ways to make it happen:

Invest in Precious Metals

One dollar in 2014 was only worth 80 cents in 2004, a 20 percent loss in value due to inflation based on the Consumer Price Index. The price of gold went from about $400 per ounce in 2004 to around $1,300 as of early April, a 225 percent increase. Silver and its price trends were very similar during that same time period.

Freshmen in 2010 could have purchased gold at $1,100 per ounce. Today their investment would be worth $1,300, an 18 percent return in four years. That is far better than what any bank account or stock will do for you. There always has (and always will be) a negative correlation between the value of the dollar and gold; as the former goes down, the latter goes up. That is why investors and financial pundits frequently refer to gold as a “hedge against inflation.”

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