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4 Ways to Pay For College Without Student Loans

A recent article in Forbes said that student loan debt is now the second-highest consumer debt category, second only to mortgage debt. In 2018, the average student owed about $37,000 in education loans. So with costs rising out of control, how does one build a plan to pay for college without using student loans?

Here are four options worth considering.

First, look for scholarships. It might seem obvious, but the fact is that most people have no idea that they qualify for them, thinking their higher income makes them ineligible. And while it is true that many scholarships are based on need, there are others that are available for those who simply want to lower their costs. Websites like and can be a great place to start looking for those scholarships.

Next, think about starting at a community college. It might not give you the same freshman experience of a university, but it can be a great low-cost alternative for your first year or two. And here’s something else: many state schools that have tough admission requirements for freshmen are a LOT easier to get into if you transfer in as a sophomore or junior. Just make sure you know how many credits will transfer over so that you don’t get stuck repeating any classes.

A third option to consider is living at home with Mom and Dad instead of on campus. This options is not always ideal for everyone, but we’re talking about cutting costs here. And with room and board for college running $10,000–$15,000 per year in some areas, this could save you a ton of money. If that’s not realistic, you might want to consider getting a resident assistant (RA) job on campus in a dorm, where room and board can be free.

Finally, a really good way to help pay for college is to work. If you go to, they’ll tell you how the Federal Work-Study Program is laid out for college students. They’ve got both on-campus and off-campus opportunities that could dramatically lower your costs to attend. Not only that, but some big employers, like Verizon, Starbucks, and Bank of America, offer tuition reimbursement to their employees. Not a bad way to start your working career!

There are also Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) forms, Pell Grants, and tax credits, like the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC), that could help ease the college tuition burden. But keep this in mind: even if you think you don’t qualify for help, it doesn’t hurt to check. You just might be missing out on something big!

Information presented should not be considered specific tax, legal, or investment advice. You should always seek counsel of the appropriate advisor prior to making any investment decision. All investments are subject to risk including the loss of principal. This material was gathered from sources believed to be reliable, however, its accuracy cannot be guaranteed.

No client or prospective client should assume that the information contained herein (or any component thereof) serves as the receipt of, or a substitute for, personalized advice from Lucia Capital Group, its investment adviser representatives, affiliates or any other investment professional.

Raymond J. Lucia Jr. is chairman of Lucia Capital Group, a registered investment advisor and CEO of its affiliated broker-dealer, Lucia Securities, LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Lucia Capital Group. Securities offered through Lucia Securities, LLC. Registration with the SEC does not imply a certain level of skill or training.

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