Can you afford a private college? Should you?

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A piece in the USA Today looks at the rising cost of college and the stark reality that students hoping to attend private colleges face: With the exception of the most elite schools in the country, which are able to offer very generous financial aid to students they want, you'll probably have a hard time getting through a private college without student loans.

I'm a big fan of avoiding large student loans, even if it means not going to your first choice college: A degree from an elite university might give you more options but graduating with a 6-figure debt load eliminates a lot of those options: you pretty much have to take the highest-paying job you can find just to service your loans.

In the first few months of WalletPop's existence, our writers have offered some valuable tips on choosing a college and paying for it. In our Recession Watch series, Julie Tilsner had some great advice for parents of college-bound kids. I wrote about Kiplinger's list of the top public colleges in America and an interesting way to save money on textbooks: rent them! We also had a piece on colleges that are completely free.

College is one of the biggest expenses of most peoples' lives but if you're willing to be creative and forgo the status symbol that is a degree from a private college, you can make it a lot less painful.
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