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How to Get a College Degree Debt-Free

Take Advanced Placement (AP) classes in high school: The first two years of college will be spent taking general introductory classes in big auditoriums, where most of the class may be taught by students. You can get credit for many of these classes by taking AP tests in high school and receiving credit as if you had taken them at college. It also gives you the opportunity to test subject matter you think you might enjoy before you get to college.

College Level Examination Program (CLEP): CLEP is another way to test out of the many introductory classes that most students need to take in their first two years at college. CLEP offers 34 examinations that allow you to demonstrate you are college-level proficient in a subject for only $75, and most colleges accept the test for credit.

Community college: It doesn't matter where you begin your college education, only where you're attending when you get your degree. Two years of community college can save you thousands of dollars in tuition and fees. In most cases, you can transfer most, if not all, of your community-college credits to a four-year college and finish your last two years there.

Research college value: Not all colleges are the same, but they are a lot more similar than many people would have you believe. While graduating from a certain college may give you a slight advantage in landing your first job, it will have little effect after that. It will be how you perform in the company from that point on. That means the college that leaves you with the smallest amount of debt will likely be your best value.

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