Student loan debt in America has now topped $1 trillion. And surprisingly, that's far more than credit card debt. But what if you could get through college without those burdensome student loans? Here in Central Texas, some parents are planning to get their kids a diploma, debt free.
The Jeske's became a family of three just a few months ago, but like many parents these days, their college education left them with a lot of debt.
"I had to take out student loans to finish my education so I am in debt with student loans but it's an investment in the future," said Tim Jeske.
They hope their daughter. Amelia, will have a future without student loans, so they've already started a 529 College Savings Plan
"We've made that decision to put away a little bit of money every month with the goal of in 18 years, helping her out," said Jeske.
Josh Lawson is the author of "Don't Get Suckered," a book on how to survive college debt free. He says you can also start something called an ESA.
"It's an Education Savings Account and so that allows you to put money back tax free each year up to a couple thousand dollars each year per child," said Lawson.
But there are also things your kids can do to get a diploma debt-free. Starting with those standardized tests.
"Take those you know two or three times and get a tutor in between each time that you that test because each time you can improve your test scores you're saving yourself thousands of dollars," said Lawson.
You can also save money by going to community college for the first two year. Here in Central Texas you have quite a few options like Central Texas College, Temple College, and McLennan County.
"There is no reason to incur debt for the first two years of college, none," said Dr.Thomas Klincar, Chancellor at Central Texas College.
Dr. Klincar suggests your children take as many dual credits as they can while in high school, and when looking for colleges ask if they're a regionally accredited.
"And there's only one answer. If you hear anything other yes, walk. Walk immediately," said Dr. Klincar.
But if you're looking for the secret to avoid student loans, it's scholarships.
"If we can get scholarships with the money we've put aside, hopefully she comes out debt free of college and she can really chase her dreams and do whatever she wants," said Jeske.
Savings and scholarships. That's the Jeske's plan for Amelia's future. A future free of student loans.
You can find more than $3 billion on scholarships available at FastWeb.com.
Below is a list of regionally-accredited colleges in the area.
Central Texas College
McLennan Community College
Texas A&M University-Central Texas
University of Mary-Hardin-Baylor
Texas State Technical College
Texas A&M University
Blinn Community College
University of Phoenix