Getting a college degree is expensive, but practically required for any decent job today unless go a different route working in the trades for a career. I don't believe it's possible for someone to be able to pay for their own living expenses and college tuition and other expenses without scholarships or loans. I've had a few discussions and debates with people on this subject and have usually found that those who did it had their parents pay for some or all of the following: housing, vehicle, food, insurance, phone, whatever else. That doesn't count! You got hooked up by your parents, so your expenses were less. I'm doing the math to see how much it costs to cover everything on your own.
Tuition: $4,391/full-time semester
Books & Supplies: $620
Food & Housing: $5,688
Source for my numbers: https://www.boisestate.edu/vpfa-budget-and-planning/tuition-and-fees/
For a 4-month semester, $11,947/4 months = $2,986.75/month
$2,986.75/4 weeks/40hrs means a student here would need a full-time, 40hr job paying at least $18.67/hr AFTER taxes. About $750 a week. Probably a $21/hr job needed because of the tax and benefit deductions, working full-time while going to school full-time - and this didn't even account for extra spending money or a variety of other expenses and utility costs. In Boise, Idaho a college student earning $21/hr is rare! Maybe some people get lucky and find good income to make it work or earn good scholarships to help with the costs. The overwhelming majority don't.
I had a friend that would work through college, but he worked for his dad's company that paid him well and he didn't have to waste any time applying for jobs or anything like that. Scholarships are great if you can earn them. I heard all the time how there were tons of small scholarships out there for the taking by anyone, but I felt like I was just wasting my time writing and submitting dozens of essays and doing some leg for just a small chance at a scholarship. I didn't want to do all that work unless I knew it would actually produce results for me. I got tired of losing and spending hours and mental exertion for a small chance at a $500 or $1,000 scholarship.
Unless you get good scholarships and/or have family pay your way, I think you HAVE to get student loans. Gone are the days one could simply work their way through it unless you get very lucky or figure out other means. Please share your story if that's the case. I'd love to know how you made it.
The main focus of our discussion is about what struggles people face trying to get into or maintain a middle-class life and prepare for a better future. What would help? We discuss jobs, economy, politics, inequality, other life observations, and most importantly, helping people. Get to know us better and join the conversation.