Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Your Ben Franklins and College Debt

Benjamin Franklin one of America’s greatest founding fathers once exhorted

“…free from the dominion of vice,

by the practice of industry and frugality,

free from Debt,

which exposes a man to confinement and Slavery to his Creditors”

Each time I see a hundred dollar bill, (I wish I saw more of them!) I’m reminded of the many exhortations of Ben Franklin. It's quotes like these and infamous others in his work, Ways to Wealth, that spur me on to work towards getting my education without debt.  In Shakespeare’s Hamlet the exhortation “Neither a borrower or a lender be” I’d very much like to be a lender, (Not much chance of the Bank of Desmond) but I’ve endured the pain of being a borrower too many times to motivate me to earn College Credit for Less and so not need to borrow to invest in myself. And so I understand The Great Bard’s wisdom.

Choosing a college is one of the most important things you’ll do. Everyone’s reasons are similar and yet different. Everyone wants to get an education, but that’s only part of it.  There’s the idea of growing up, being an adult, (I’m 37 and I’m just grasping that now!) There's belonging to a fraternity, or screaming till you're hoarse as your College Team makes the qualifying touchdown. It's the friends you’ll make and the networking contacts you hope you’ll maintain for the rest of your life.  The college experience is something you have to be there to attain.

The reality is that colleges cost cash. There are numerous ways to get that cash - from hardworking parents, to waiting tables at your local Burgers R Us outlet, to gaining scholarships and availing of government grants. Eventually we’ll take a look at raising funds so that you can earn College Credit for Less.

Most colleges have a program set up by the government which will allow you to gain credit for information that you already know (if you don’t already know it, I’ll teach you how to gain that knowledge) Over 2500 Colleges in the United States award credit this way, yet very, very few people know about it.  Consider for a moment what a credit hour costs at the college you’d like to attend. Here are two examples

Northern Illinois University $315 per credit hour (in State)  

State University of New York $302 per credit hour (SUNY Campus’ rock)

Most colleges require you to have around 120 credit hours to graduate. That's about $40,000 give or take, plus you then need some books, a laptop, and room and board.  Most current college books cost about $120 each and seems like you’ll need one for each class. That's another $4,000 in books alone.  Yet using this system that exists in most colleges, you can gain the three credits for the class for about $150. That’s a saving of over $870. The thing is that you need to do the work.  With the right planning, you could gain up to 40 (yes, 40!) credits with an outlay of $150 per three credit class.  This isn’t advertised heavily in most colleges, as the college will lose about $8,000 once you discover this and put it into action. Yet they will provide you with the information very easily once asked for. Some colleges won’t give you credit for this knowledge but will let you take other courses of interest instead. This broadens the mind but doesn’t help your future debt burden so check out which colleges do what.

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