Finding out how to pay for college can be a challenging process for both students and parents. And how was it not? The average student faces a bill over $30,000 year to earn a college degree. However, there is almost always more than one way to go when it comes to getting paid college education.
Use the tips below to learn smart ways to keep your college expenses from being expensive textbooks for on-campus and off-campus housing.
- Complete the FAFSA application
- Research scholarships and grants
- Find Work-Study programs
- Set up payment plans
- Explore ROTC programs
- Search for available schools
- Consider off-campus housing
- Reduce the number of activities
- Find an internship
- Look at student research positions
- Ask about help from your employer to pay for your training
- Tap into savings
- Apply for loans
1. Fill out the FAFSA
Sending your Free application for federal student aid this is the first step to finding different financing options for your college education. If approved, you may be eligible for a number of federal and school grants, student loansand work and study opportunities throughout the year.
Try to apply as soon as possible, as some schools issue awards on a first-come, first-served basis. And don’t forget to check if your school wants to graduate a CSS profile too.
2. Research scholarships and grants
Federal grants and scholarships some of the best ways to pay for college. Federal grants are awards made to students based on their financial need. Scholarships are awards given to students based on their academic performance and achievements in academics or extracurricular activities.
Although they are different, you can essentially think of them as the same thing – free money! Unlike loans, you don’t have to pay it back money awarded to you. However, you need to make sure you are eligible, otherwise the award may be cancelled.
3. Find work and study programs
Work-study programs help students pay for college by providing them with part-time jobs on or off campus to earn money. If you are accepted into the program, you will receive at least the minimum wage in the amount shown on your packet.
Keep in mind that work and study are not guaranteed and you will need to find an on-campus or off-campus opportunity on your own to receive any funds.
4. Set up payment plans
Students and parents of students often look into university payment plans when they are looking for financing options that don’t involve taking out loans. They allow you to pay off your tuition debt over time at an affordable price monthly payments. So instead of applying for a $10,000 loan at the bank, you can pay $415 over 24 months with a small administration fee.
5. Research ROTC programs
The Reserve Officer Training Corps, or ROTC, is a scholarship program that pays for room and board or tuition, fees and books in exchange for a minimum of eight years of service in the military after graduation.
6. Search for available schools
Lower your overall tuition costs by finding schools that fit into your current budget. A tactic that many people use is to start their education at a local college or technical school.
You can then stay and earn a degree there or transfer credits to a four-year institution. Just be sure to check to see if the four-year school you’re interested in accepts transfer credit.
7. Consider off-campus housing
Living on campus is a dream for some. You’re close to your friends, activities, and the essentials you need as a college student. However, room and board fees are often high—sometimes even more expensive than the tuition itself.
Finding affordable off-campus housing is a potential workaround. And if you find a few friends to stay with, you’ll save even more. Remember that you will have to factor in expenses like groceries and utility bills, but this can also be an opportunity to learn how to properly track and plan your money.
8. Reduce the number of classes
There are many ways to pay for college besides investing in a savings account. You can actually work to lower your tuition costs by reducing the number of classes you need to take when you go to college.
There are a few different ways to do this, but the main tactics include:
- Taking AP/IB tests
- Earning college credits in high school
- Exploring dual enrollment programs
However, be sure to check with your college to make sure they accept transfer credit and any other policies regarding exemptions from certain classes.
9. Find an internship
Internships it’s a great opportunity to learn and get real experiences while studying at school. They may also sometimes offer financial incentives in conjunction with your work experience.
10. Look at the students’ research positions
Similar to internships, student research positions allow students to gain valuable work experience and earn money while doing it. Many college departments offer these positions to students studying a related field.
If you are interested, just ask the professor and he will probably give you more information. You can also search for job postings on various online job search sites.
11. Ask about employer assistance in paying for tuition
Another thing you can do to reduce your college tuition is to find employers that offer tuition assistance programs. These programs help you pay off some of your student debt to relieve the burden of financing your education.
12. Tap into savings
Some people like to think ahead when it comes to paying for college. A common path for many families is that when it’s time to apply, you have to apply.
529 College Savings Plans especially popular among 85% parents supporting their children financially through college. These are savings accounts designed specifically to help you pay for future education expenses such as tuition and fees, books, room and board, and other expenses.
Note that non-qualified withdrawals sometimes incur fees, so it’s important to read the rules associated with your account.
13. Apply for loans
Even after years of saving and applying for dozens of scholarships, there’s a chance you’ll still need financial aid—and that’s okay. more than 83% students rely on some form of financial aid to attend college.
Applying for a loan can help you pay off your debt. But unlike grants and scholarships, you are required to repay the funds – whether it is after graduation or before.
Here are the common loan options used to pay college bills:
- Private student loans: Financial aid to students from private companies and/or non-profit organizations
- Federal Student Loans: Financial assistance is provided by the Department of Education to eligible students
- Parent PLUS loans: Financial assistance is provided by the Department of Education to parents of eligible students
The time before and after college can be emotionally and financially difficult. Not only do you have to figure out how to pay for college, but you also have to adjust to living in a different environment.
Frequently asked questions about how to pay for college
Still have questions about paying for college? No problem—we have the answers.
First, fill out the FAFSA to see if you qualify for federal scholarships and grants. If you don’t qualify, there are private loans, grants, and scholarships you can apply for to help pay for tuition and other expenses.
Using your 401(k) it’s one way to pay for college. However, transfers made before you are 59 1/2 years old are subject to a withdrawal fee.
Using crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe is a great way to potentially raise funds for college quickly. You can also study the series side hustle that suit your interests.
A good way to stay on track for college savings as a parent is to multiply your child’s age by $2,000. This will give you an estimate of how much you should have at this point in time.