As just about anyone thinking about education can tell you, college can be prohibitively expensive. At this point, it’s no longer reasonable to think that you can rely on financial aid or just cover it with loans. At the moment, there is a near $1.3 trillion student loan debt in this country, including both federal and private student loans. On the personal level, taking on a massive student loan debt can inhibit you from being independent after college, buying a house, or even starting a family. If you are unable to pay, the situation may even get worse.

College shows little signs of getting substantially more affordable any time soon, so the time has come for upcoming students to be flexible and resourceful in order to make things more affordable for themselves. Here are some of the types of techniques you can employ.

Saving On Your Education

Technically, you can start on saving money on your education while you are still in high school, by taking AP or IB courses. While this can be difficult and not for everyone, the credits you earn here mean fewer classes you take in college, and ultimately, less that you spend. Some high school students also take college courses in high school with this in mind.

Advanced academic courses are not an option for everyone, and some of the people reading this article may already be past the point where they can implement these into their plans. However, one academic option that can make an even bigger financial impact is community college. More and more students have started their higher education with a two-year community college stay, even if they have the grades to get into a four-year university from the start. Community college costs are often thousands of dollars cheaper per semester, and not staying on campus will also allow for massive savings. Working through four-year school prices isn’t really feasible alone, but in theory, you could pay for community college without taking out a single loan (we’ll talk about this later).

In addition, when you’re getting ready to apply for schools, be ready to aggressively apply for scholarships. Nearly billions of dollars are out there, meeting nearly any type of student, area of study, or even area of interest. You may be surprised, but you won’t know what options are out there until you search. It may actually pay off to come up with a few scholarship essay templates that you can customize for each option of you are low on time and want to apply as many places as possible.

Earning More Towards Your Education

While making your education cheaper is a good idea, you may need money to live off of during your education or want to take a more active role in paying for school. One of the best things you may want to do is start a side hustle during your college years. What makes a good side hustle? Just about anything you can think of that fits your skills! For example, an English or communications major may want to do some freelance writing to hone what they are learning and make some money doing it. The flexibility is nice compared to a proper job, though you likely won’t make so much at first.

However, employment doesn’t necessarily have to mean that your class or schedule is at risk. If you’re looking for a start, check out jobs at Alder. Summer sales positions will allow for plenty of flexibility in your schedule, as well as the chance to develop soft skills that can serve you during your search. In fact, some major companies even offer employer reimbursement of college costs to make them more competitive. Do your due diligence when browsing those job listings to see what options you have. When you’re on an interview, be honest when talking about your situation and gauge the response potential employers have. Chances are if they are reluctant to accommodate you, they may end up posing a headache letter when it comes to managing your schedule.

It would be nice to be able to focus on your education solely during your college years, but for a wide span of students, this just isn’t a possibility. The good news is that there are more and more opportunities than ever to try and lower your reliance on student loans via pursuing alternative income or trying to find opportunities to save on your college bills. By being resourceful, you may be able to minimize the debt you take on, letting you leverage the salary your education will command to your benefit.