College has always been an expensive prospect, but in recent years, the student debt crisis has really come to a head. And with the average price tag for annual tuition and fees ranging from $10,440 at public, four-year in-state colleges to $36,880 for private colleges, many students are rethinking the notion of graduating from high school and jumping immediately into full-time college education. 

In fact, an August 2019 TD Ameritrade survey reveals that 1 in 4 millennials are delaying college enrollment due to the costs involved. And although some might frown upon that, there's actually an upside to deferring studies and saving some money first. 

A group of college-age friends on a couch with laptops or phones.

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The benefits of delaying college

Some argue that holding off on college could have undesirable financial, professional, and social implications. But actually, deferring your studies for a few years and working full time instead is a move you may want to consider.

First, there's the financial upside. Millions of students graduate from college saddled with debt. If you don't have much in the way of college savings, and you'd rather not rack up a mountain of student loans, then holding down a job for a number of years prior to college and saving up for your tuition is certainly a smart move. This setup works especially well if you're able to live at home rent-free for a few years while you hold down that job. That way, you can really bank as much money as possible. 

Another benefit of working before attending college? It can help you better maximize your education. Many students arrive at college with no idea what they want to study or what type of career they want to pursue. As such, they wind up wasting money on useless courses and often end up needing more than four years of college to finish up their majors, thereby adding to their costs. 

If you put in some time in the workforce prior to attending college, you may wind up kicking off your studies from a more focused standpoint. This means choosing the right major from the get-go, and potentially graduating a semester or two early as a result.

It doesn't have to be all or nothing

Another route to consider if you're not too keen on racking up tons of student debt but don't want to delay your studies for too long? Hold down a full-time job for a year or two, but also take a few community college courses on the side. You'll be getting your education started, but you'll also have the opportunity to earn a chunk of money to pay for your studies once you enroll full time. And because many college students spend their first couple of semesters knocking out core requirements anyway, doing so at a community college could be a huge money saver

Should you delay your studies?

If you're eager to attend college immediately after high school and understand the implications of taking out student loans, then by all means, go for it. That's what plenty of students do each year, and there's nothing wrong with diving in. But if you're hesitant to rack up a pile of student debt, consider joining the ranks of those who are delaying college due to cost. You may find that working for a few years allows you to pursue a degree from a place of less stress and better focus.