NEWPORT NEWS- For many teenagers, college is out of reach because of the cost. For those who go, many take out college loans and build up big debt.

According to American Student Assistance,in 2012, the average student loan balance was $24,000. The statistics shows about a quarter of borrowers owe more than $28,000; three percent of students owe more than $100,000 in student loans.

Katlyn Sharp Yarborough is among the many high school students who are learning skills by taking free technical courses in Newport News.

Yarborough, a senior at Warwick High in Newport News, attends an early morning cosmetology class before going to her regular ones. Although she's not planning on a career in hair and makeup, she hopes these skills will land her a better-paying job to help her afford the price of law school.

Brandi Paynter, who attends Jamestown High School in Williamsburg, is taking pharmacy classes. She wants to be a licensed pharmacy technician when she finishes and hopes the money she earns will help her go to college to become a pharmacist.

Bruce Schaffer, the principal of New Horizons Regional Education Center, says technical classes were once considered alternatives to college. The first Vo-Tech school opened in 1965 for that very reason. Now, it's a way to get skills to get to college.

Schaffer says students with these skills can make up to $30,000 a year and can work while they're in college.

The Center serves the Peninsula's six school districts. Students can enroll for free by getting an application from their high school counselor.

Every school district has some form of free technical education for students, so check with your counselor. p>

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