Four Words Have Minimized My College Debt


My name is Thomas Perez. I am going to be a senior at Humboldt State University, and will be graduating in the spring of 2018 with a major in Marketing and a minor in Psychology.

Four words have driven me to keep my college debt to a minimum – “Son, I love you”.

I love my parents too. It is paramount in my thinking and all that I do. That is one reason I work hard. I want to make my parents proud.

My parents have pushed me at every point in my life and have also given me many great opportunities. One of those opportunities is paying for my college education. I am beyond thankful for this opportunity. Because of it, I am the first of my family to attend a four-year university.

I do not come from a high-income family, therefore, it was important to me to create as little extra stress on my parents’ as possible, financial or otherwise. Hence, I knew going into college I wanted to keep expenses as low as I could.

Following are some of the strategies that have worked for me. In my first year, my parents were gracious enough to buy me the largest meal plan available at my school, as well as to pay for on-campus housing. Unfortunately, though, my parents still struggled to pay for everything at once, so we had to take out a loan. Luckily for me, we did not need a large loan.

During the second semester, I tried to have my parents allow me to live off campus so we could save more money, but they were not fans of that idea.

My second year of college was somewhat similar to my first year from a financial perspective with two exceptions. I still lived on campus, except, now I resided in the most expensive housing area. And, I had the second-largest meal plan. Just like my first year, we had to take out a loan. Fortunately, it was not any larger than year one. During the first semester, I took up a small paying brand ambassador job to bring in more cash. I also decided to save up any extra money my parents gave me. I chose to only spend money if my savings exceeded a certain amount. During the second semester, I also finally convinced my parents to let me live off campus. That helped us tremendously.

This past school year, my third year of college, I had very little to pay for compared to my previous years. I moved into a small house off campus with four friends to make our rent as low as possible. Since I was living in a house, there was no need for my parents to pay for a meal plan. I was able to buy all my food and groceries at discount stores or I would shop at Costco and buy in bulk. I took up two more brand ambassador jobs to bring in extra cash. The rest of the year was filled with good spending habits, budgeting, and saving.

My senior year is going to be the best year yet.

My plan is to move into an apartment with three other friends. That means my rent will be less than last year. Utility expenses will also be reduced. And, I hope to have a job on campus. Right now it is just a plan. But, I guarantee I will be saving money, buying only what’s necessary, and keep expenses as low as possible. There was no need to take out a loan last year. So, there is no way I will need one this year. That is something I will not allow.

Finally, there is one more way I have helped keep college costs and debt to a minimum. I have only taken classes that count towards graduation. I have made sure to get into all the classes I need, and if I was unable to get a class one semester, I would substitute it for another class that I needed to take. There has been no lollygagging when it comes to my studies. I was almost able to graduate in three and a half years. Many students at my school take five to six years to graduate. I am proud to be graduating in four years with minimal debt and stress to my parents.