Financial aid dwindling. Rising tuition. College debt over $20,000. Financing a college education can be as hard as paying off a McMansion on an adjustable-rate mortgage. So why is Zac Bissonnette smiling? The senior art-history major at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, is set to graduate debt-free. "The great thing about graduating debt-free is that you have tremendous flexibility in terms of your postgraduation plans," says Mr. Bissonnette, author of "Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships or Mooching Off My Parents." "You don't have to rush out and take the highest-paying job to make your sacrifices to the almighty church of Sallie Mae." Here are six ways you, too, can trim or eliminate college debt:
College financial aid is easier to find through the government this year. Grants and loans are consolidated in one place, streamlining families' search for college financial aid.
Student loans: Critics warned a government 'takeover' this spring would snarl up the federal student loan program. Instead, student loans are streamlined and interest rates have dropped.
The class of 2009 makes adjustments in the face of a dearth of jobs and increasing interest rates on student loans and credit cards.
Young consumers are easy prey for predatory credit-card issuers. They are relying on their plastic more than ever.
Personal finance Q&A with Steve Dinnen
Federal student debt now tops $500 billion, leading some students to ask for debt forgiveness as a form of stimulus. Washington is wary.
Websites are cropping up for peer lending, and at other sites, students can raise donations for college.