College Planning

Be a Student Without a Student Loan

It’s possible to graduate debt free. Maybe I should repeat this. It’s possible to graduate debt free! Rebecca Bell did it. I heard about her story in the Wall Street Journal. I share how she did it in this video. Here’s the article I reference.


  • Tom

    Rachel….I agree with the 4 years sacrifice, but as you say to reap “wide open” 40 years after graduating debt free. Come on, give me more than 40 years…. I graduated college debt free 24 years ago, I want more than just 17 more years. You should broaden the post-graduate years a bit. Maybe say something like the next 40, 50, 60, even 70 or 80 years. How old is your father and when did he graduate??nAll in fun, keep up the good work. ­čÖé

  • Guest

    I absolutely agree! It can be done!!!! My husband went for his bachelors, masters, & PhD, and I went to college for 2 years. All together = no student loans and no consumer (credit card) debt!! Our first five years of marriage he was finishing school. Money was obviously tight and we lived on little. Our motto was “make the best with what you have.” We didn’t always make the best purchasing/budgeting decisions on small things monthly, and although we didn’t go in the hole we really were living month to month with only a small emergency fund available. We tried to make better decisions on “bigger” things, such as paying 20% down for our first house (we used inheritance $, and purchased it during college), and when we bought our first car (AFTER we were married!) it was a 12 year old car that we paid for with cash. A few years later that car died and thankfully we had savings available to pay cash for a replacement vehicle that cost more than double the cost of that first car-that is still the only vehicle we own and it’s now 15 years old! All in all we have 11 years of college between the two of us with zero student loans, no credit cards, no car loans, and the same year he finished school (2012) we sold our first house to move for a great job, and walked away without a mortgage debt either. Not bad!

  • Debbie

    Aaaaaaamen! I was raised by parents that couldn’t afford to put me through college. They raised me with excellent money management skills and the mindset that if you don’t have the money to pay for it you can’t afford it. My sister and I both worked through college and lived at home with those marvelously wonderful parents. We stockpiled our income in the summer. I only went for 2 years, but my sister completed a four year degree. We went to community colleges and she went on to an in state university. Neither of us accumulated one cent of debt while in college. And we’re both better for the experience. I’m now 49 and I can’t understand the parents around me who think it’s their job to put their kids through college. They didn’t save when the children were first born and now the parents are the ones working and taking on extra jobs to pay for their kids’ education. It’s good for students to work and go to school and it’s good for them to learn to sacrifice just as Rachel said for a few years to they don’t have to for the rest of their lives. Why should the parents make the sacrifice? It’s the beginning of the rest of their life for our kids and if parents don’t let kids own their own education, they’ll continue to provide the safety net forever because the kids will expect it. More of the American mindset that needs a reset.

  • Michelle Cockerham

    I appreciate the wisdom and encouragement to avoid student loans. I also agree that learning to live frugally is a lost art to many young people today. I am wondering what your advice would be to someone who was an excellent high school student, who qualified for scholarship and work study money to cover tuition, but no in state school offered the program of study that the student was looking for and therefore still needed money to afford room and board. Are there any situations in which you think it is reasonable to take on a student loan?

  • kim

    Wondering if Rachel had any advice on paying for law school debt free? My son graduates with a bachlors next year debt free. Now facing law school soon there doesn’t seem to be money available for white males without going the loan route. Even going in state and possible scholarship money from the school he attends that doesn’t come close to what it costs. Thank you.

  • Mrs. Campbell

    Great video Rachel! I am a high school teacher trying to show my students that there are other options than student loans; I will be showing this video to them tomorrow ­čÖé