The majority of students planning to attend college after high school are concerned about covering the costs involved. Students born into wealthy families—students that never had to worry about money while growing up—may be an exception to the generalization, but most families across the country are being faced with the difficulties of financing a college education in today’s weak economy.
While there are a lot of places for students to get advice about paying for college—high school guidance counselors, college financial aid counselors, and school websites are just a few that come to mind quickly—a just-released book provides insight from a slightly different perspective.
Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching Off My Parents was written by Zac Bissonnette, a 21-year old senior at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Jay Matthews, education writer at the Washington Post, calls Debt-Free U “an insightful new book on the admissions process” and explains that Bissonnette is able to offer advice from a college student’s point of view—a college student that has made it this far without taking out loans or borrowing money from his parents, no less.
I have yet to read the book, but I was rather impressed when I read that Bissonnette told Adam Daniels of the Huffington Post, “I think there’s a problem in thinking that college has to be the best four years of your life. Well, if the best four years of your life puts you in so much debt that you can’t pursue the career that you want, you can’t have a family, you can’t buy a house, then that’s the worst four years of your life."
In a separate Huffington Post article written by Bissonnette himself, he explains why he feels that students overlook the potential dangers of taking out student loans. “What’s so bad about student loans? Everyone has them!”
His answer? “The problem is that, because the growth of student loan debt is such a relatively recent phenomenon, most people really don’t have any information on the long-term impact it has on borrowers’ lives. We simply don’t have enough old people with huge amounts of student loan debt to know what happens to borrowers.”
Bissonnette says that Debt-Free U is about 90 percent research, most of which he did during high school. It appears that Bissonnette definitely a rather impressive track record when it comes to his knowledge of money and investments. At the ripe old age of 21, he is an editor with the AOL Money and Finance website DailyFinance.com as well as its spin-off site WalletPop.com
Bissonnette recently appeared on the Today Show to discuss his book, saying that “The average four-year college in America costs just $13,000 a year – including room and board after a small tax credit that parents get. And when you break that down per week – which you can pay for college monthly, interest-free, at almost every public college – it works out to $250 a week. And if the kids are working and the parents cut their costs, you can cash flow college. The idea that student loans are necessary is not true. I know; I’ve done it without loans.”
When it’s put that way, the thought of taking out thousands and thousands in loans does sound absurd, but it still happens and I’d have to guess it’s going to continue happening.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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