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Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching off My Parents Paperback – August 31, 2010

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Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching off My Parents + Confessions of a Scholarship Winner: The Secrets That Helped Me Win $500,000 in Free Money for College- How You Can Too! + How to Go to College Almost for Free
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Trade; 1 edition (August 31, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591842980
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591842989
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,458 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In keeping with the new frugality, this college guide, written by a senior attending the University of Massachusetts, offers practical advice on how to pay for college without taking out loans. Decidedly old school in approach, Bissonnette advocates that students should bear the brunt of paying for their educations by working while in college and during breaks. He also suggests that attending community college for two years before transferring to a four-year college or university would go a long way toward cutting costs. Systematically and amusingly debunking the selection criteria used by U.S. News and World Report and others to rank elite colleges, Bissonnette is a strong advocate of attending reasonably priced state schools. He makes good points about how debt from student loans often prevents recent grads from starting families or buying homes. He also presents convincing research that elite graduate programs and selective employers accept plenty of people who have attended nonelite schools. Although the strictly dollars-and-cents approach to higher education may not sit well with some parents, this is a timely guide to a decision that has important financial ramifications. --Joanne Wilkinson


"If the National Association for College Admissions Counseling had anticipated the dire consequences of one of the smartest teenagers in America encountering the ill-examined assumptions of their profession, they might have found some way to buy him off, maybe a full ride scholarship to Harvard. Too late. Bissonnette is 21 now, a senior at the University of Massachusetts. He has written the best and most troubling book ever about the college admissions process."
-Jay Mathews, The Washington Post

"Let Zac Bissonnette help you plan for college-where to go, what to study, and how to pay for it-and you will finish rich"
-David Bach #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Automatic Millionaire and Start Late, Finish Rich

"In the new economy, your college choice is critical. Zac Bissonnette's Debt- Free U is the one book you need to make this life-changing decision-- thoroughly researched, smart, and funny. Grade: A+."
-Ali Rogers, CBS Moneywatch. Author, Diary of a Real Estate Rookie

"With Bissonnette, college-bound students and their parents finally have an unbiased source to help make an educated decision about choosing and affording college. Not to mention, his advice can help you pocket tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. Want to make a smart investment in this economy? Buy Debt-Free U."
-Farnoosh Torabi, financial expert and author of Psych Yourself Rich

More About the Author

Zac Bissonnette is a personal finance writer. His first book, Debt-Free U, landed him on The Today Show, Sean Hannity, The Dave Ramsey Show, The 700 Club, and the Fox News Channel. The Washington Post called Debt-Free U "the best and most troubling book ever about the college admissions process."

It has been featured by The BBC, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Bloomberg, Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, The Suze Orman Show, The Boston Globe, ABC News, and many others.

His second book "How to Be Richer, Smarter, and Better-Looking Than Your Parents" was a New York Times Bestseller. He was also the editor of the Warman's Guide to Antiques & Collectibles and he is a contributing editor with Antique Trader.

He has written for various media outlets including GLAMOUR, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times Online, The Boston Globe, and The Daily Beast. His is currently working on his next book, the story of the Beanie Babies bubble of the 1990s.

Customer Reviews

I just wish I read a book in 2004 and had the information.
C. Necker
The best thing about it is that I will be able to pursue what I want to without having to worry about debt and student loans!
I highly recommend this book to any parent with children planning to attend college.
Nev Okyay

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

108 of 113 people found the following review helpful By Jarod Bloom on September 18, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book. I cannot recommend enough that all parents with pre-college children read this book and use the valuable information provided to take ownership of the college decision process together as a family by considering what this book has to say.

I am a CPA and a financial planner in the Boston, MA area. I see exactly what Zac describes with many families whose financial plans are dominated by education financing at the expense of other goals. I'm blown away by a 22-year old college student being able to accurately identify all of these issues, cut through all the BS spewed by the higher education and college financing industries, and support his assertions and analysis with compelling facts, data and research. I would urge anyone reading this book to not hold Zac's age against his analysis. His analysis is spot-on accurate. In fact, his age is useful for lending credibility to the anecdotes he does mention in the book about campus life and his experiences. He knows what he's talking about because he's living it.

For years, I've struggled with the question of whether you need to attend an expensive college to get a quality college education. It didn't seem right to me, but I didn't have the information to assess this one way or the other. As Zac clearly shows, there are huge industries with tons of money at stake to make people believe that an expensive college is a must for your child's education. As Louis Brandeis said, "sunshine is the best disinfectant". This is one book that is the sunshine that exposes these industries for what they are.

Being in Massachusetts, I would feel very comfortable guiding my children to a Massachusetts public college armed with the information that Zac provides.
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54 of 59 people found the following review helpful By M. Butts on June 18, 2011
Format: Paperback
I put myself through college starting at 32, being the sole breadwinner with a wife and kids at home. I agree that big sacrifices are absolutely necessary to get a degree without a six figure loan.

One part of the book I disagree with is the bargain basement pricing Mr. Bissonette uses to calculate how you and your offspring can get a degree, actually having a surplus in your savings account when complete. State colleges in Michigan have increased tuition over 125% over the past ten years, making them about double the cost he used in the book. Add to that the stingy merit scholarships: Michigan State offers $800(!) for incoming freshman to their homors college. That wouldn't get a semester's worth of books.

Another point I disagree with is his insistence that private schools cost too much. The private schools will let your child in with an ACT score of 17, but you will pay full list price. If your child is a high achiever, like mine are, the total cost of tuition/room/board can be the same as the public schools. Don't automatically rule the private colleges out.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Gail on May 19, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This review is from a parent-of-three. Degrees: BS, PharmD (Doctor of Pharmacy). Profession: Hospital Pharmacy. Back in the day, I paid for college myself- via working, Pell grants, loans, and merit scholarships. It was hard to finance it all myself, but not as hard as it would be to accomplish today. I pity the kids with unsupportive parents, especially those who might use this book as an excuse to cop out on their kids.

This book is full of much-needed information, especially for parents who are facing this process for the first time. I highlighted all the way through. But, having been through the process (incl. one UMass grad), I have a few observations to make.

First: Zac discourages people from applying to out-of-state universities, because then you would be paying private-school tuition rates. In 2005, Ohio University offered a grant to my son that erased the tuition difference between Ohio U and UMass. This is a common practice, to attract out-of-staters. However it may be true, as Zac mentioned, that the current economy has shrunk these grant offers.

Zac's advice boils down to this: "Get a degree by hook or by crook and as cheaply as possible, in order to get out of school and start achieving your real goal, which is: making money." Zip through in 3 years, skip classes, and take the easiest major that will get you the highest GPA. The diploma is all that counts; education itself is discounted as a necessary evil. Note that Zac is an art history major. I assume this has afforded Zac a high GPA that will get him (along with this book authorship) into a great B-school grad program. It's all about the bottome line, baby! This is great advice for the entrepreneurial types.
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Wow, I couldn't put the book down, with every page I could see all the ways to save money. This book is worth its weight in gold. Words cannot describe what this book has down for me, I really feel I have an insider in college and it has greatly reduced my stress of having my first child go off to college next year. This book contains more than finacial tips, it covers every aspect of college, from course tips to professor information, I can't say enough, you definately won't be dissapointed.
It was a fun read and will share with other college bound students. I have five teens and if I can do this anybody can. take care enjoy the journey. Debbie
PS I wrote this at 6a getting five kids off to school please excuse the typos.
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