How to Pay for College
Ways to Pay for College
Mounting student debt and rising college tuition prices have both been major subjects in the media recently, which has raised questions as to whether or not higher education is really worth the cost. Despite these rising tuition rates and the buildup of debt, most experts still agree that the majority of Americans would benefit from taking advantage of higher education opportunities. However, this still leaves students with the difficult question of how to pay for college despite a dwindling job market and loan requirements. Fortunately, there are still some accessible methods students can take advantage of to help pay for college and invest in a better future.
Taking Advantage of Scholarship Opportunities
It’s always best for students to consider scholarship opportunities before loans, since scholarships don’t require repayment and certainly don’t carry with them the burden of interest rates. The following list includes good websites to utilize when searching for a good scholarship:
These websites are good for connecting you with several different scholarship opportunities that range anywhere from academic awards to minority scholarship awards. Sports scholarships are also great for going to school while performing in the sports team of your choice. Although these scholarships can certainly be very helpful to help pay for college, one of the most helpful scholarship programs can be found through your current college and through your state. Many states have special programs for residents who have performed especially well in high school either academically, in sports, or in some specific subject.
If you continue to perform well at the college you attend, your school is also likely to offer rewards in the form of scholarships. Something important to remember when it comes to scholarships is that you can pretty much find one for just about anything. From being left handed to wearing a duct tape dress to prom, there are scholarships available for wacky subjects that seem completely unrelated to education. If you struggle with academics or are intimidated by the competition, it might be best to look into these alternative kinds of scholarship programs.
Joining the Military
When you make the noble decision to serve your country in the military, you are rewarded by several federal programs that allow you to attend an institute of higher education for free, receive benefits on housing, healthcare, and benefits for your dependents. If the cost of college seems overwhelming to you, joining the military may be a great decision. Not only does joining the military provide you with a paid education, it also gives you invaluable experience learning the various skills necessary for each job and experiencing new countries and cultures. These life lessons not only help you become more well-rounded as a person, but can also make you more valuable in the job market because you have more skills to offer.
Applying for Grants and Loans
Federal grants are similar to scholarships in that you don’t have to pay the money back; however, grants are usually preferred because they don’t require much (if any) work from the recipient. Students who come from low-income backgrounds usually qualify for the Federal Pell Grant, which can add up to $5,000 in aid per year for qualifying students. Although grants are ideal, many students don’t qualify for them and have to take out loans to pay for college. The following loans are available for students who need assistance paying for college:
- Federal Stafford Loans: Stafford loans come in two different forms: subsidized (no interest rate) and unsubsidized (grows with interest over time). It is extremely important that students know the difference between the two. When taken together, these loans can account for up to $10,000 per year.
- Sallie Mae Student Loans: Sallie Mae is one of the most popular loan companies that offers loans as well as scholarships and additional funding options for college tuition. The agency offers several plans that can provide more than enough money to pay for college; however, these plans require a co-signer with good credit in order to be approved.
- Bank Loans: You can acquire a bank loan to pay for essentially any expense, but most banks offer special programs for individuals who are interested in taking out student loans. Similar to Sallie Mae, these programs usually require a co-signer, good credit, and various other standards before lending.
Getting a Job
Rising tuition means that very few students are lucky enough to juggle classwork and homework without maintaining a part or full time job on top of that. Unfortunately, having a job is absolutely essential to making the cost of college easier on the student. In extreme cases, some students are forced into the position of taking on a full time job during the day while attending night classes just to be able to make ends meet. Fortunately, there are alternative options for paying for college besides employing a sugar daddy to help out.
- Federal Work-Study: Federal Work-Study programs are extremely helpful in helping students on campus find jobs that not only help them pay for school, but also work around their school schedules. From working in the campus library to doing odd jobs in the campus security department, Work-Study is a great way to make money while maintaining enough time for school.
- Food Industry: In most big college towns, it’s relatively easy to acquire a job in the food industry, either serving, hostessing, or cashiering at a fast food place. At the server end of the spectrum, students can be making up to $400-500 per week, which can help cover living expenses while still having some leftover to chip away at tuition bills.
- Independent Business: Becoming an entrepreneur can be easier than you think, and may even be more lucrative that the average serving job. From babysitting to dog walking to selling baked goods, having your own business is a good way to keep to your own school schedule while still making money on the side to help pay for college.