These days, most people assume you need to pay a boatload of money for a quality college education.
As a result, students and their parents often go into years of debt and risk sabotaging their financial futures just to get a fancy name on a diploma.
Today, Americans owe more on their student loans than on their credit cards - a trend that's expected to continue as college tuition rates rise faster than financial aid. The high cost of education can be so crippling that many graduates end up right back where they started.
"At that point they're so poor, what do they do then? They move back home with mom and dad," said Jeff Yeager, author of The Cheapskate Next Door.
But Zac Bissonnette is walking proof that this assumption is not only false, but dangerous - a classic con game designed to rip you off and doom you to near poverty.
Financial Expert Zac Bissionette explains more why college tuition debt is a "class con game" on CBN Newschannel Midday News, Sept. 14. Click here to watch the interview.
From his unique double perspective - he's a personal finance expert at AOL's Daily Finance and a current senior at the University of Massachusetts - Bissionette figured out how to get an outstanding education at a public college, without bankrupting his parents or taking on massive loans.
The college senior has written a book about what he learned, called Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching Off My Parents.
In it, he shows the results of some little-known studies that are likely to change the way you think about paying for college forever.
In his book, he explains:
- Why the name on your diploma means less for your future than you think it does.
- Why student loans are the next great consumer crisis in America-and how to avoid it.
- Why scholarships and financial aid won't alleviate spiraling college costs-and what will.
Bissonnette gives parents surprising advice, including these do's and don'ts of college:
- Do recognize that the amount your kids' friends' parents will be contributing to their educational expenses is likely far higher than it should be.
- Don't let someone tell you that student loans are not that big of a deal. Yes, they're normal, but so is being broke.
- Don't fall in love with a college or let your child fall in love with one. Every college is a combination of great professors and lousy ones, cool students, and not-so-cool ones.
- Most of all, do look at college as a rational investment, not some silly coming-of-age ritual where money is no object.
No matter what your current financial situation, Bissionette has a simple message: "RELAX! You will be able to get a champagne education on a beer budget!"
Bissionette appeared on Monday's The 700 Club, Sept. 13, to discuss how to get a great education without devastating your financial future. Click play to watch the interview.