"Welcome Freshmen" sign

4 tips to avoid debt in college or university

Students are excited to see and reunite with their friends after a long summer. They talk about their time off, laugh about the professor who is not coming back this year, slapping their knees, having a good time. Voila.

After all the pleasantries, it's back to work. However, this also means it's the start of students racking up their debt during the school year. In fact, average Canadian student debt estimates hover in the mid-to-high $20,000 range according to CBC. The Canadian Federation of Students pegs it at $27,000.

The previous two sentences nauseated me. You got nauseated as well? No problem. Here are 5 tips to avoid debt in college or university.

Don’t go to expensive schools

This move alone will save you thousands of dollars and help you avoid huge debt. Do your research and find out how much different universities will cost you. There are several schools out there that offer the same programs, but the tuition fees differ greatly.

For example, you can apply for a collaborative university and college program if it means not moving out of the city. Remember at the end of your four-year program, you will have the same degree as your mate who did all of his/her four years at university. The only difference? Your wallet will be better off.

Rent your textbooks

When I was in school, I used to hate buying textbooks—especially when then had a freaking new edition every year. If you keep buying the new editions, you will be toast.

My friends, online services like Textbook Rental and Book Mob will ship textbooks for you to use and then return. Magic.

Apply for bursaries and scholarships

Full disclosure: You don’t need top grades for several bursaries and scholarships. Heck no! I know this sounds false, but for some bursaries and scholarships, you just need to apply. Call your bursary office and ask for more information. You will be surprised.

Here’s another confession: there is a leadership award given annually out at Seneca College in Toronto worth $1000 where you will be eligible only if your GPA is LESS than 3.3 Stop rubbing your eyes and pinching yourself, you read it right.

Curb your credit card usage

Credit companies are not evil but I don’t like them. They set up booths in every college and university campuses. They offer you a free t-shirt and free food at times. Broke students devour free food like a candy treat. I am speaking from personal experience.

Yes, a credit card is necessary to build up your credit score and it can be used in a positive way. But, students get into trouble nine out of ten times with credit cards. They tend to pay only the minimum balance on their credit card and play catch up. Playing catch up with 19.99 percent on interest rate, not a wise move. Always pay your full balance.