Ten effective tips to get through college with zero debt

BYU-Idaho is a great place to go to college. Not only is it a great school to learn at, but also it is fairly economical compared to most universities. Yet, many college students still wind up thousands of dollars in debt. Hopefully these 10 tips will help put more cash in your pocket and eliminate any debt you might encounter.


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FASFA should be your No. 1 source for affording college. It stands for “Free Application for Federal Student Aid.” This program was developed by the U.S. government to help fund students to get through college. The government essentially gives you grants and pays for much of your education in hopes that you will pay it forward to society once you complete it. This government program has proven its worth over the years by keeping its populace educated and ahead of the curve. It should be noted, though, that FAFSA also provides you with student loan agencies to help pay for your tuition. These loans must be paid back.

FASFA is fairly easy to sign up for and can pay huge dividends. Not only does it help cover your school expenses but it can also help with some extra cash to cover living and book expenses as well. The process to sign up is a simple one. Your first area of contact will be the financial aid office located in the Spencer W. Kimball Student and Administrative Services Building on campus. You will also want to check out the FASFA website for more info.

2) Scholarships



Scholarships can be great resources for affording college. Unlike financial aid, which is covered by the U.S. government, scholarships are funds put aside by private individuals, organizations and BYU-Idaho itself to help certain individuals get through college. Scholarships tend to look for those with potential. Those who have high GPA’s, special circumstances and experiences tend to be prime candidates for scholarships. But even then, anyone has chances of receiving scholarship funds for school. There are many scholarship websites were you can apply funds online. Some of these include Chegg, Fastweb and Cappex. Our BYU-Idaho Web page has an area where you can apply as well.

3) Get a college sponsor

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If you feel strange receiving money from strangers to help fund your education, what about people who you are close to? Most family and friends want to see you succeed in your career and life. They are most likely willing to help pay for a small portion of your school. Sometimes receiving a little from many adds up to a lot. If asked nicely, you may get some very positive results.

There are certain websites online where you can have people you know fund you for certain projects. Websites like GoFundMe have created a platform for people who want to crowd-fund for any topic. The sites introduce an efficient and presentable way for you to make a page and introduce what you are raising money for. These sites do charge you a fee of around 8 percent. What better project than advance your life through education? Reach out to those who love you and see if they can’t be any help.

4) Get a job

Gunnar Ross, a freshman studying history, and Erik Anderson, a sophomore studying business management, work at Freshens Smoothies, Bagels & Deli. BRIANNE SHIRTS | Scroll Photography

BRIANNE SHIRTS | Scroll Photography

There are plenty of jobs in East Idaho that can help get you through college with zero debt. Although many tend to be “college jobs,” they make a huge dent in the bills that come forward. Juggling full-time school and a part or full-time job is no easy task. Ask anybody. But with the proper amount of planning in your schedule, you will find time for school and work. Many of these jobs can be found close to campus or on campus itself. Check with your local businesses or the BYU-Idaho job board for local jobs near you.

5) Sell plasma

MEGAN HOYT | Scroll Photography

MEGAN HOYT | Scroll Photography

Many students don’t realize an easy way to make an extra $240 a month by selling plasma. Plasma centers are located in most moderately sized cities and offers a quick and easy way to make some extra cash. In Rexburg, there is a plasma center called Grifols, located on Main Street. It is the most convenient way to donate blood in Rexburg. Not only will you be helping yourself get through college, but you will also be helping someone in need who needs your extra plasma; it’s a win-win situation.

The whole donation process typically takes a little over an hour. A small test is performed to make sure you are fit and healthy to donate, and then you’re whisked away to the abstraction room. It’s mostly the same process as donating blood. When the abstraction is completed, cash will be deposited onto a special card that you can use to purchase anything you want. If you are a regular donor (two visits a week), this extra cash should be able to offset much of your food and gas bills while in college.

6) Turn your old junk into cash

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One man’s junk is another mans treasure, as the saying goes. Each and every one of us have items in our homes that we rarely or never use. Why not do a double combo and de-clutter our homes and make some cash at the same time? Websites such as Craigslist and eBay are popular places to get your online garage sale started. Other websites, such as the “Rexburg Garage Sale” Facebook page, are commonly used to sell or buy used items in Rexburg. Most people do not know that BYU-Idaho also has its own bulletin board for buying and selling as well. Check out these resources and make some extra cash.

7) Get a side gig

KATY BURTON | Scroll Photography

KATY BURTON | Scroll Photography

Look deep inside yourself and ask, “What am I good at?” Some people are excellent with vehicles, home maintenance, agriculture, childcare, driving or electronics. Regardless of what you are good at, make it marketable. It is not uncommon to see someone use their knowledge of cars to buy cars online at one price, only to sell it for more online the next week. Others choose to solicit their skills online on social media to find those interested in their particular skill set. Side gigs such as maintenance work, baby-sitting, taxi services and lawn maintenance are staples of those who make side cash. Discover your skill and get out there and be an entrepreneur and put it to use.

8) Get cheap or free textbooks


One of the most overpriced items in college is the college textbook. But it doesn’t have to be that bad if you are clever. There are several alternatives to buying full-priced college textbooks. Not every college textbook is 100 percent required by your professor, so check with your professor first before purchasing your textbooks. Textbooks required for a course can be purchased as ebooks or regular text books on sites such as Amazon, Thriftbooks and AbeBooks for a fraction of the price.

Renting books is much more economical and better for our environment than everyone buying new books every single semester. There are stores outside of campus such as Book Viking that would allow you to rent for a fraction of the price.

There are websites online that many times offer free e-book textbooks that you might be able to utilize for your class.

9) Summer sales jobs


BRAD SANT | Scroll Photography

This idea is often forgotten. There are numerous programs that happen over the summer where you could make some considerable amounts of cash. Many of them revolve around sales jobs, but not all. Many companies will pay you to fly out to a new location in the U.S. where they will provide food and lodging. These summer jobs will usually ask you to sell some specific product and you will receive commission based on those sales. The salesman selling security systems door-to-door is the hallmark of these summer jobs. Although this doesn’t always sound appealing, these summer jobs can, many times, push you financially far ahead to help cover school expenses.

10) Budget, budget, budget

TASHA ANDERSEN | Photo Illustration Keeping a digital record of your expenses can help you keep track of where and when you are spending your money. According to Citizen’s Bank, a good tip for keeping a budget is to do the math of how much income you take in on a monthly basis in order to gauge whether you are spending more than you are earning.

TASHA ANDERSEN | Photo Illustration

Budgeting cannot be emphasized enough. No matter how much money you make working or money raised from others to help pay for school, it will all be in vain if you do not use it wisely. To be successful with your money, you need to seriously think about your income and expenditures. How much do you spend a month? How much do you make? Is there a way to make more? Is there a way to trim more expenses? How much could you set aside a month in case you need money quick? These are all questions that should be going through your mind.

Splurging extra cash on meaningless possessions and unnecessarily expensive food are only going to set you back. Luckily, there is an app for that. Many smartphone apps have been made to help you budget and track expenditures and income. If you input the correct data you will be able to see graphs and tables on where your money goes and comes from. Use this technology and keep your eye on the ball.

Do these things, and there is a much better chance you will get through college with zero debt and you will feel financial independence.

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