Zac Bissonnette, a senior art history major at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, is set to graduate in 2011 debt-free, without taking a cent from scholarships or his parents. His book is Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships or Mooching off My Parents.
From his Q & A with Husna Haq at the Christian Science Monitor:
Q: How did your parents, and especially your father, inspire you to develop financial savvy early on?--Marshal Zeringue
A: My dad was a hippie: he drove a VW bus during the early 1970s, and actually lived in a tree house in a state park for a little while (until park rangers gave him the boot!). He's one of the smartest, most wonderful people I've ever met, but he's just not focused on money at all, and has had problems with it his whole life.
A few years ago, my dad's house was actually going through foreclosure, and he was staying at a friend's house, and I was sitting on the couch with him watching a baseball game. And I asked him, just off the top of my head: “Who do you think thinks about money more? You or Bill Gates?” And I’ll never forget his response: “Without a doubt, me. I spent my whole life thinking I was above money and that it didn’t matter and now it dominates my life and is all I think about. It’s like money is exacting its cruel revenge on me.”
Everyone needs to be on top of their financial lives, and the less motivated you are by money, the more you need to worry about it. We're seeing a generation of debt-loaded college grads whose life choices are constrained by decisions they made when they were 17 years old. We know from surveys that students who graduate with significant debt are less likely to pursue service-oriented careers – and more likely to take high-paying jobs that don't inspire them. That's a national tragedy and one I'm committed to fighting.
Q: What's the biggest mistake people make when planning which college to go to and how to pay?
A: The biggest mistake can summed up like this: People...[read on]