Attending a college or university can be a great way to open up new doors in your life. You can make professional connections, explore different career paths and nurture your personal interests all on a single campus. A big problem many students face today, though, is paying for college. As costs continue to rise students find themselves scrambling to cover tuition and fees so they continue working toward their dream. If this sounds like you, don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to pay for school so you can enjoy your classes without worrying about tuition.
Fill Out FAFSA
This is the free application for federal student aid. It’s the federal government’s way of assessing your needs and seeing what it can do to help. Universities and colleges use the information in this form to determine what types of funding you might be eligible for. Things like scholarships, grants and student loans are all determined by your FAFSA. The form is filled out per school year and needs to be renewed each year.
Almost every higher education institution offers its own scholarships, both campus-wide and departmental. These are also the scholarships that everyone else at your school will be applying for. They’re great to get in on or be awarded, but they’re by no means the end of your scholarship opportunities. Plenty of national organizations and large companies offer their own scholarships to college students. Start searching early and you’re likely to find a treasure trove of alternative scholarships that can help you pay for school.
Apply for Grants
Grants, like scholarships, are another type of funding that you don’t have to pay back. There are federal and state grants that you’ll be considered for through filling out your FAFSA. The most popular type of grant is a federal Pell grant, which can cover a significant amount of tuition for qualifying students. States have a variety of grants for certain types of students as well, such as Louisiana’s Go Grant for low-income students returning to school.
Get a Work-Study Job
Plenty of students work their way through school, but some lucky ones get to work at their school. Work-study jobs are especially helpful because they often come with some type of tuition remission or exemption (in extremely lucky scenarios). The university or college pays you to hold a position on its staff and as an added bonus it also discounts your tuition. These jobs are typically offered through certain departments, so check with your school to see which areas offer work-study jobs.
Tapping into Your Savings
No one wants to pay out of pocket for their education, but sometimes it’s a reality you have to face. Saving for college throughout high school or in the years before you plan to attend can help you satisfy tuition requirements without having to work extra shifts and worry about missing a payment. A good rule of thumb is to have two years’ worth of tuition and fees saved before you start and a solid savings plan to keep yourself funded throughout your education.
Choosing an Affordable School
Wouldn’t everyone love to attend an Ivy League school? Although your dream school might have the best program in the country or be in a beautiful area, college is also a time where you have to get real about your financial ability. Setting your sights on a school that’s above your budget will likely set you up for disappointment. Choose a school that’s affordable on its own and also offers lots of funding opportunities. If your state offers scholarships for in-state students, look at schools that honor those programs. Some universities even have legacy scholarships available for students whose parents and grandparents attended as well.
Paying for college can seem impossible, but there are lots of ways to find the money to finance your dreams. Fill out your FAFSA, look for scholarships, grants and work-study jobs, make sure your savings account is in order and find an affordable school. Don’t forget to protect your investment in college with tuition insurance!
BIO: Brett Clawson has a degree in Business Management and has started a couple of small businesses. When he’s not focusing his time on those, he spends time with his wife and two sons. His oldest son has entered the wonderful realm of college, and he now enjoys sharing tips that he and his son have found essential for college life.