1. Understand what you can afford
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One way to stay out of debt is to choose a college or university you can afford to attend, says Derek Hagan, a financial planner in Minneapolis. Before you apply to a college, find out what your costs will be and determine if you’ll have the money to pay them. If not, you’ll need to choose another school or come up with a plan for raising the money you need.
“College is the only purchase where we pick the product first and then figure out how to pay for it,” he said. “I would never go test drive a Rolls Royce, fall in love with it, and then go into debt trying to pay for it. Yet, this is how many families choose colleges. They get into the dream school with no plan on paying for it.”