Debt Free U

October 3, 2012

Attending college has suddenly gotten a lot more expensive. This isn’t to say that obtaining a degree through higher education wasn’t always a pricy proposition. But the landscape for students has changed considerably over the last few decades, and even more so in the last few years. First of all, more students than ever are trying to obtain a degree. Whereas even a couple of generations ago a high-school grad could find ways to earn a livable wage, these days a college degree is considered necessary for survival. And education has become a big business. Then there is the recession to consider. Budgets are being cut and schools are hiking tuition and fees to cover the losses. Parents that have lost jobs may be less able to contribute to a college education for their kids. This means that more students are taking out loans and going into major debt in order to attend college. But there is a light on the horizon if you know which direction to look. And the audio book ‘Debt Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching off My Parents’ is a step in the right direction.

Author Zac Bissonnette is walking proof that students can get a great college education without taking on tons of debt in the process. With a degree from the University of Massachusetts under his belt, this personal finance expert took it upon himself to use his own experience in college to help other students find strategies to get through school sans student loans (even if they don’t have help coming from scholarships or from mom and dad). He asserts that kids can get a “champagne education” with nothing more than a “beer budget”. The real trick, according to Bissonnette, is to change the way you look at colleges.

Many students think that attending an elite and expensive university will lead to better job opportunities and higher pay. But this is not necessarily true. The scam starts with college rankings, which make some schools seem more desirable than others. In Bissonnette’s view, the criteria used to rank colleges are not necessarily indicative of the quality of education to be had. In fact, he is keen to let listeners know that public schools can provide an education that is equal to Ivy League institutions at far less cost. In essence, he seems to be saying that paying more for an exclusive school is tantamount to buying brand-name clothing: what you’re really paying for is the label, not the shirt. And if his own college education and career trajectory is any indication, he is definitely on to something.

But making the decision to skip the elite institutions of higher learning and head for a neighborhood school is not enough. Students have to make the most of their college experience by tracking down the courses and professors that will give them the best chance for success in their chosen field. And furthermore, they must work hard to save money at every opportunity. Bissonnette helps here by providing prospective students with tons of financial tips that cover nearly every aspect of the college experience. Whether you’re shooting for an MBA or anĀ urban planning masters degree, this is one audio book every student should pick up.

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