Unless you have hundreds of thousands of dollars lying around, odds are you’re going to have to get creative when it comes to financing a college degree. We’re here to help. We have some methods you’ve probably heard about, and a few you may be less familiar with. Hopefully, you can find a way that will work out for you.
Scholarships and Grants
Let’s get the ones people know about out of the way first. Grants and scholarships are typically designed as rewards for either scholastic, civic, or athletic excellence. While grants and scholarships are applied to your overall attendance costs differently, they effectively serve the same purpose. The best thing you can do is look for as many grants and scholarships as you can and apply to all of them.
It should be noted, if you’re receiving significant financial aid, scholarships may not be as helpful. For whatever reason, they are not always allocated to unmet need, somewhat defeating the purpose. It depends on the school and the scholarship.
Student loans exist.
Use them if you must; avoid them if you can.
Moving right along…
Work study and simply getting a job on campus are not the same thing. Work study is a type of financial aid. The school may set you up with a part-time job as a condition of your aid award. Actually, students will often have to find and apply to work-study eligible jobs themselves. There’s a misconception that the money earned goes towards paying for tuition. The purpose of work-study is to provide students with extra cash, not pay tuition or fees. You may be thinking “what’s the point?” The major difference between a regular job and a work-study job is that with work-study, your earnings will not lower your financial aid award the way the earnings of a regular job would. That may not sound like a big deal, but it can be the difference of thousands of dollars.
Regardless of what people might say about Community College, it is undeniably a prudent financial option for your first two years of a four-year degree. In fact, the only downside to Community College (stigma notwithstanding) is that associate degrees are the highest offered. It’s as simple as this. A year a state school can cost you upwards of tens of thousands of dollars. A year at a community college will likely cost around two thousand. Two years of Community college translate to the first two years of a bachelor’s degree program. How do you lose?
A cooperative education or Co-op is a program where a student works full-time for a company while taking a full course load that is at least partially paid for by that company to make the student a better employee. If you can find one and think you can handle a very demanding schedule, it’s a serious head start to your career.
Have you ever considered asking strangers to pay for your education? It’s not as far-fetched as it may seem. Crowdfunding has only grown in popularity over the last few years. It might not cover your costs entirely, but every little bit helps (though things get murky when applied to financial aid). The thing about crowdfunding, though; you have to have an angle. Why should strangers give you money? If you can come up with a compelling, TRUE story, you could be in the money.
These are just a few of the countless ways people can find funding for college. A few of them can even lead to success far beyond a degree. When it comes to financing something, creativity can make all the difference.