Skip to main content

alert ATTENTION: College closed Wednesday-Sunday for Thanksgiving.

6 Steps to a Debt-Free College Degree

With some pre-planning and simple strategies, you can stretch your educational dollars to finance a degree-- without going into debt.

Average tuition & fees

Step 1: Get a head start on college in high school.

Last year, high school students taking Columbus State "dual enrollment" classes saved a total of more than $450,000 in tuition. By taking courses that meet both high school and college requirements, you double your credit-earning power. Qualifying classes are available at both Columbus State campuses, at some Regional Learning Centers, and in several high schools. Check out the college's College Credit Plus program for more information.

Step 2: Keep doing the math (and English).

debt-free degreeStudents who don't take math their senior year can fall behind and place into developmental math courses for college. Tuition for these classes adds up, but the credits don't count toward a degree. It's also smart to take as many English courses as possible for the same reason.

Step 3: Go after grants and scholarships.

Some grants and scholarships aren't awarded because students simply don't apply. Columbus State offers $1,000 and $1,500 scholarships for qualified recent high school graduates—and more for students who've completed at least a semester. Visit

Step 4: Complete two years at a community college, then transfer to finish a bachelor's degree.

Preferred Pathway logoTuition at Columbus State is much less than at a public or private university (see chart). Adding to the value, the college has developed easy credit transfer agreements with colleges and universities throughout Ohio (, including the Preferred Pathway® with The Ohio State University.

Step 5: Complete a 2-year degree in a high-demand field and get started earning, not owing.

Nationally, there are 29 million good-paying jobs ($35,000-$75,000) that require only an associate degree or professional certificate—and only two years of tuition expenses. You can always return to college later to finish a bachelor's degree, maybe with your employer helping to pay.

Step 6: Take community college classes in the summer while working part time.

No matter what college you currently attend, you can take a class or two during a summer semester at Columbus State. And if you can live at home while studying and working, you'll save on expenses as you earn tuition money. Summer classes fulfill requirements, reduce remaining credit hours, and often lead to earlier graduation.

Printable version