Can’t Afford College

Dear Sara,

My son is seventeen and wants to go to college. He is very bright and ambitious. I want him to have this opportunity but my wife and I have minimum wage jobs and just manage to buy food, gas and pay rent. This seems really important to him but we can’t help. How can he manage to pay for college without a mountain of debt?

Dear John,

The first thing your son need to look into are scholarships. He might want to look on-line and apply for any which fit his plan for college. Government loans are available but he will have to pay them back for a long time. He might want to consider living at home and getting a part-time job to help him pay expenses and tuition. If he is a good student maybe someone in his chosen field will help him out with part-time employment. Good luck to him.


  1. Forget college, and I’m one with 3 degrees including a doctorate. But times have changed. Get a job. Stay at it. Save money. Pay attention to the adults and non-adults around you. Try to gain more maturity than you may or may not already have. No one is ever “mature” enough. As you mature try to discover the true interest that you would like to transfer into a career. When you have decided, keep on working but start taking relevant college courses on line. Very cheap. Get two years in. Re-evaluate. Maybe get a 4 year degree, but still on line and all the while continuing to work and living at home. Another option is to learn to weld. A 3 month class is affordable and you’ll soon make enough on graduation to pay it back. Apply the same college approach as above. Keep working. Maybe you’ll become a doctor some day or a business owner, but you’ll always have welding.

  2. Short on money. Join the military.

  3. I had an attorney (who worked for the FBI for 40 years) tell me once to start my kids off at a junior college to get his preliminary courses out of the way at a cost that is much more affordable especially if he can get scholarships. Get a BA then transfer to a larger college or university to continue his education. All degrees pretty much have the same prerequisites and living at home attending a junior college and working part time to will help defray costs. The majority of people I know wasted their first two years of college before finally settling down and most of them said the same thing. Start at a junior.

  4. What’s wrong with student debt and a job while in college? Investing in yourself is good debt. Investing in a big screen tv and an unlimited phone plan is not. Kids need to realize that debt is not a bad thing if done for the right reasons and within moderation. Maybe 2 years in community college for the core requirements and then transfer to a good 4 year college. Make sure he is not a philosophy major unless he has some grand plan to use it to pay back his loans (I was a drama major and became a doctor, so just have a plan). E need to teach kids to be responsible with how they spend their money and take on debt, not shy away from debt entirely. Just my 2 cents


  5. Nothing wrong with taking 2 or 3 classes at a time if scholarships aren’t available. It just takes longer to complete the required credits to move to the next level. The counselor at his high school should be able to assist with applying for scholarships. If your son is not willing to work part-time, he doesn’t really want to achieve his education. Good luck!

  6. look at the service air force then the army GI Bill

  7. Start out at your local Community College. Tuition is affordable and unless you take Basketweaving the credits are transferable to most 4 year schools. I started that way and now hold my Masters. It takes time and commitment, but you will eventually get there.

  8. I worked at night went to college by day, other times took night classes when I got a day job. Took me six years rather than four. Tell him to get a job!!!!

  9. Granny in Ga says:

    Look at your local community college. I taight at one for many years, both day and night classes. Many of my students worked fulltime and took one or 2 night classes. They were better students because they knew they were getting what they had worked for.

  10. While traveling through the country We came across some colleges that don’t charge for student tuition. In exchange they work at the college in different capacities. One such college is Berrea in Kentucky. There are others, good luck.

  11. I was orphaned at 6 months of age, partially raised in foster homes, and had no special abilities. I worked my way through college with no help from anyone, went into management, and eventually opened a business of my own. Anyone can do it

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