Ways I saved:
I leveraged the benefits available to me to avoid paying as much of it myself as I could. With some planning and building a good relationship with my academic advisor (who offered methods to reduce the overall expenses), I ended up having to pay less than an average of $1,200 per year out of pocket to complete both of my degrees with no student debt.
1. Tuition assistance through Comcast. At the lower degree levels, the tuition assistance program allowed for $5,250 per calendar year. The tuition assistance was paid through a “deferred Direct Bill” agreement so that I didn’t even have to spend the money up front and then wait for reimbursement.
I arranged my schedule to maximize these benefits. I also scheduled a couple of leaves of absence for life events or just time off for a class period or two in order to draw out the timeline enough to leverage the benefit for four calendar years.
2. Alternative credits. During the final year of my bachelor’s degree, I was given the opportunity to take alternative credit-hour courses toward my bachelor’s degree through Study.com, which allowed me to save on six courses on a self-paced schedule that I completed over a two-month period. This not only saved me a substantial amount of money, but also pulled back the timeline so it didn’t stretch into a fifth calendar year.
3. Smart scheduling. All told, these elements allowed me to avoid paying out of pocket to complete my undergraduate degree. The handful of classes I did end up paying for myself were put on a credit card, and I paid those off over the following couple of paychecks.
I am currently working on my Master of Business Administration degree, which I am targeting to complete in September 2022. Again, I scheduled my classes so they were spread out over two calendar years, which enabled me to maximize my employer’s tuition assistance benefit.
Additionally, my tuition assistance helped me stretch out the annual tuition assistance benefit to cover six classes per calendar year rather than roughly four classes. These two elements helped me avoid personally paying for tuition, so I will complete my master’s degree with no out-of-pocket expense.
In summary, with some planning and patience, there are a number of creative ways to finance your college education, which can minimize out-of-pocket expenses and avoid student loan debt!
How I paid: Employer-based tuition assistance, alternative credits and personal savings.