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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - "I didn't know if that was something that was going to be possible or not," Virginia Chambers told THV11's cameras. For Chambers, affording college almost became a mystery. "It was you either get a full scholarship or you're going to have to slowly go on your own and pay it yourself."

At an institution comparable to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), it costs the average student $16,000 per school year.

"We have way too many students that are relying upon student loans for financing their school," stated Dean Kahler, the Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management at UALR. It is being called a debt crisis.

"At the time when you're in school and don't have any other income, that money is easy to get and seems very necessary," explained Tony Williams with the Arkansas Student Loan Authority. After all, students have to pay for tuition, books, room and board, and of course keep a few extra dollars to enjoy the so-called college experience. "It's a temptation that is very difficult to resist."

But, what do you do to pay for college if you should avoid using a loan?

Kahler suggests first, setting up a plan for college. There are several different possibilities to go to school debt free, including an assortment of scholarships and grants. Second, only take out loans you absolutely need. It may be a better option to take out less than what is offered. Third, graduate on time to avoid accruing extra money that will just add on to your bill.

"We tell people that the federal government never forgets," Williams added.

For Chambers, she was fortunate enough to graduate from UALR in May debt free and was able to put aside extra scholarship money for graduate school in the fall. While not everyone shares the same experience, she believes anything is possible and encourages others to take advantage of all opportunities.

"You don't have to be the straight-A student in high school in order to get a debt-free education," she concluded.

Find opportunities for scholarships: http://www.fastweb.com/

Learn about Pell Grants: http://on.kthv.com/1lkmaoS

Find out if you can get Federal Aid: https://fafsa.ed.gov/

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