The 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.”
If you’re currently receiving annuity or structured settlement payments, consider contacting a company like J.G. Wentworth. They may be able to buy all or a portion of your future payments for a lump sum of cash now, and then you could use this money to purchase gold. Local dealers and jewelers will charge the least over spot prices versus online brokers.
You could also take out a student loan for whatever expenses you need covered, then add enough to buy an ounce or two of gold. By graduation, the gold’s value will have increased. Selling it will enable you to pay off a large chunk of the loan immediately. Gold has been a valuable asset for centuries, and the investment lessons you’ll get from it are priceless.
Many young entrepreneurs use crowdfunding to get their businesses off the ground. You are an entrepreneur of sorts, too—you are investing time and money into a venture (going to college) and expecting it will bring great returns.
GradSave and GiveCollege are two crowdfunding platforms to raise college money. GoFundMe and Indiegogo are two broader platforms you could explore. To maximize contributions, get creative—students majoring in journalism or English can promise donors of a certain amount credit in their first published book, and law students can offer premium donors discounts on future service.
Search Grants and Scholarships
The key to obtaining free money for college is to never stop trying. Scholarships.com has mobile apps for both Android and iPhone. Every day, spend a few minutes browsing available scholarships and apply for one at least every week. Fastweb and Zinch are two other scholarship platforms. Look for other sources of scholarships, too.
Graduating debt-free (or close to it) is possible for anyone willing to put forth the effort. Make it your goal to graduate with honors and without debt.