Is it Possible to Avoid Student Debt But Have a Rewarding Career?

Posted By Contributor on August 7, 2017 at 11:56 am
Is it Possible to Avoid Student Debt But Have a Rewarding Career?

To our readers: The following guest article outlining ways to have a rewarding career and avoid student debt is provided Michelle Symonds, founder of Ditto Digital in the United Kingdom. She works with small- to medium-sized businesses in a range of industries.


Student debt can be a real burden for people in their 20s trying to start a career, affecting everything from how much disposable income they have to how much a mortgage lender will advance them. You can avoid student debt in the first place – by avoiding college. But does forgoing college result in an unrewarding career? Not necessarily.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about two-thirds of Americans 25 or older do not have bachelor’s degrees. So those who decide not to go to university will not be in the minority, but will they be at a disadvantage when it comes to finding a good job? A university degree is necessary to embark on certain careers, but if a degree will not provide a career advantage and a potential student can’t avoid student debt, should he or she ask the question – is it really worth it?

Choose a career that doesn’t require a degree

There are plenty of careers that are respected, pay well, have a wide range of opportunities and plenty of prospects – but don’t require a degree. For instance:

  • Plumber, electrician, builder
  • Legal secretary
  • Air traffic controller
  • Customer services
  • Social media manager
  • Police officer
  • Firefighter
  • Train driver

How to avoid student debt if college is the right choice

If you need a degree for your chosen career or simply want to extend your academic experience, it’s still possible to complete a degree course without being saddled with unmanageable debt.

How? Check out these methods:

A company scholarship

A number of large and high profile companies provide financial support during university courses. Ernst & Young and Google scholarship opportunities are just a couple. Scholarships are generally offered on a means tested basis and will include payment of some or all tuition fees and maybe even living expenses. These scholarships have the advantage of a connection with the company that may also lead to help with work placements and mentoring.

A sponsored degree

This is a recruitment mechanism for employers who want to secure the brightest school leavers before they have even been through the process of higher education. Sponsored degrees usually include the payment of all tuition fees and may also have other financial incentives. A sponsored degree is normally an official program that the business has set up, and there may be links with specific courses and universities.

Corporate sponsorships

Corporate sponsorships are not usually part of a wider scheme but are set up between an individual and a business. It’s normally up to the person seeking sponsorship to apply. Corporate sponsorships usually involve a pretty close connection with the business in question, including work opportunities during the holidays.

Some university courses do not necessarily have to be connected to the industry of the sponsoring company. US Bank Corporate Sponsorships, for example, have both artistic and athletic sponsorships available.

Degree apprenticeships

These combine the concept of an apprenticeship with studying for a degree, with the apprentice working for a business and earning money while being trained at the same time, meaning the individual graduates completely debt free. There are degree apprenticeships available for many popular courses, including digital and technology ones. For those who feel like seeing some of the world while studying Bank of America offer degree apprenticeships in places such as London, Paris, Madrid and Johannesburg.

Fund a course with part time work

Except for those on a really demanding curriculum such as medicine or law, most students should have enough spare time to earn cash to cover some costs of student life. By also working during the long summer holidays students can also take the opportunity to put some extra cash aside because the true cost of being a student can be higher than expected.

The Bank of Mom and Dad

According to a recent report by the UK’s Financial Times, parents have unofficially become Britain’s ninth-biggest lender, with loans and gifts amounting to a staggering £6.5bn – more than $8 billion – to help family members in one way or another. This isn’t an option for everyone as not all parents are able to offer financial help, but in many cases it is a sensible option if available. This is still a student debt of sorts but usually without the interest.


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