If Steve Boedefeld graduates from Appalachian State University without any student loan debt, it will be because of the money he earned fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and the money he now saves by eating what he grows or kills.
Zack Tolmie managed to escape New York University with no debt — and a degree — by landing a job at Bubby’s, the brunch institution in TriBeCa, where he made $1,000 a week. And he had entered N.Y.U. with sophomore standing, thanks to Advanced Placement credits. All that hard work also yielded a $25,000 annual merit scholarship.
The two are part of a rare species on college campuses these days, as the nation’s collective student loan balance hits $1 trillion and continues to rise. While many students are trying to defray some of the costs, few can actually work their way through college in a normal amount of time without debt and little or no need-based financial aid unless they have an unusual combination of bravery, luck and discipline.