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Ecology of Money

How to Graduate Debt-Free

Here are several must-knows that can increase a student's nonloan aid, says contributor John Wasik.

We recently sent off our oldest daughter to college. I'd like to share a few things from that experience. Whether you're a parent saving for your own children's college educations or a grandparent helping an adult child work through this issue for grandchildren, there's no manual that tells you all need to know about colleges and financial aid.

Our family focused on finding the best-possible institution that wouldn't get my daughter--or us--into long-term debt. That's quite a challenge since the average student debt upon graduation today is $35,000, according to, a highly useful college information site.