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Graduate From College Debt-Free

03/19/2012 08:38 AM ET

Graduate College Debt-Free - Students take on a big responsibility after they graduate from college and the choices they make as they enter the workforce will determine if they can become debt-free after paying for their education.

The choices you make on funding your college will impact your life for years to come, especially after you graduate, . Sure, you can take the easy path and borrow the money. But I challenge you to be different: make sacrifices and avoid the a debt problem. No College Savings? You can still do it.

It begins with a challenge to make sacrifices and avoid the burden that most students feel after they receive their diploma. If you ignore it, you will be starting your career burdened by accumulated debt. Accept the challenge. It won’t be easy, but you can do it. These tips will help.

What if you just aren’t ready to start right now? You should consider working and saving and learning about life. If you later choose to go to college, you will have more purpose, be more motivated, and have a college nest egg.

Most importantly, say “no” to credit card offers. Once on campus, you will be enticed with free T-shirt offers and free pizza for filling out a credit card application. Don’t do it, even if you don’t plan to use the card. Nineteen percent of bankruptcies in the United States are filed by young people age 24 and under .

The biggest culprit? Credit card debt. There is a 100% chance that you won’t create credit card debt if you don’t own a credit card and succumb to credit card costs.

Plan on working two jobs every summer and one job during the school year. The sacrifices you make today will not only help you avoid debt during college but will also develop a work ethic essential for life after college.

It is always best to choose your college based on your budget. A prestigious diploma can help you get that first job. Your value to your company, however, is based 100% on your performance, not your pedigree.

Don’t choose that dream college if you can’t pay for it. Community colleges and state universities will give you a great and affordable education.

Finally, don’t bet the ranch on your chosen profession. Many students rationalize their student debt by telling themselves that this is “good” debt that will give them a great job. Most financial counselors will warn of you this mistake.

Most college graduates, about 80 percent, are not working in the field of their major. And what if you don’t graduate? You have to prepare for the unknown, but make wise choices today, otherwise you will be struggling with your college debt for years to come.

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