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Your Future, For Free (or at least less) Cost 

Your Future, For Free (or at least less)

Worried about college costs? There are ways to get started on a great future without a lot of money up front, but you’ll have to be more personally invested. Some ideas:

Military service has helped many Americans achieve their education goals and create meaningful careers in service to their country. Military tuition assistance is a benefit paid to eligible members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard. Each branch is different and has its own way of calculating and awarding benefits, but up to 100 percent of your tuition expenses may be covered in exchange for your service.

You can also prepare for military service and pay for college at the same time through ROTC programs, like law school graduate Haley Roach (page 46) did. Learn more about the military and educational benefits at

Apprenticeships can help you train for a career and earn money instead of going into debt. You’ll work in a paid, full-time position to learn new skills through a combination of on-the-job experience and classroom instruction. Programs may be as short as one year, or last up to six years, but the average starting wage is $15 per hour, and the average wage for a worker who has completed an apprenticeship program is $60,000 a year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

And, they aren’t only in the construction trades and manufacturing, either. Through Indiana’s Next Level Jobs program, careers in health care and other high-demand areas also offer apprenticeship opportunities. Companies like Trilogy Health Services, which provides care through senior living communities in Indiana and three other Midwestern states, is among the first to make the apprenticeship leap on a large scale outside the traditional industries. Check with your school counselor for apprenticeship opportunities.

Employer programs. Employers love learners because they make better employees. In fact, national companies like Walmart, Starbucks, and Papa Johns are offering tuition plans to find and keep loyal workers. Many Indiana-based companies also offer education benefits to employees, so when you apply for a job, always ask—even if you are applying for your first summer job. Cook Medical, based in Bloomington, Indiana, has developed special programs to help employees earn certificates and associate degrees that will help them advance in careers there, or even earn a high school equivalency diploma. Many companies also offer scholarships to employees, for workers or even family members, so ask your parents if their place of employment has a program.

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