10 Ways to Pay for College
Wondering how to pay for college? Earning a college degree is a great investment for your future, and luckily there are ways to make that degree more affordable. Follow the 10 tips below to make an affordable, valuable college degree a reality.
1. Fill out the FAFSA
The FAFSA form is how you and your parents submit financial information so the government can determine what federal financial aid you can receive. Even if you think your family won’t qualify, submit your FAFSA anyway. This information is needed to qualify you for other federal grants, institutional grants, and student loans. Check out www.studentaid.ed.gov to learn about the types of aid available and how to complete your FAFSA online to save time.
2. Submit the FAFSA early
Don’t procrastinate! Many colleges and universities have a priority filing date for financial aid. They need your information by that date to begin awarding some financial aid options, like work study, that are more limited.
3. Find out what academic scholarships you can earn
Virtually every college shares scholarship information on its website, so you can quickly see what you are eligible for based on your ACT/SAT scores and GPA. Often, these scholarships take no extra work – if you meet the qualifications, you’re automatically awarded the money. Find out what guaranteed and academics scholarships you are eligible for.
4. Look beyond colleges for money
Many community organizations, like local banks, Elks Lodges, and Kiwanis Clubs offer scholarships. Students often forget to look for these – which means there is less competition for that money. Also, check if your parents’ employer offers scholarships.
5. Write Once, Use A lot
Many applications ask for similar information, so you can save tons of time by writing one or two essays that can be used for all of them. Also, make sure to have reference letters, extracurricular lists and volunteer experience ready, so they are easy to add to each submission.
6. No Scholarship is too small
Apply for any eligible scholarships, regardless of the amount. A $500 award may not seem like much, but when you earn three or four smaller scholarships, you’re saving thousands of dollars.
7. Look for grants related to your major
Several academic majors, such as teaching and public service, offer programs to help you pay for your education. For example, the federal TEACH grant gives education majors $4,000/year when they focus on high-need areas, like science, math, and special education.
8. Look into jobs on campus
See if the schools you’re interested in offer part-time employment or work study positions. Since these jobs are located conveniently on campus and typically only require 6-10 hours per week, they can help you make extra money while still focusing on your studies.
9. Ask colleges to estimate your financial aid
The amount you can receive might surprise you! Some colleges can estimate, based on your GPA, test scores, and financial information, how much financial aid you can expect to receive. Reach out to your enrollment counselor to have them put a financial aid packet together.
10. Contact financial aid offices
If you have questions, call the colleges on your prospect list. In addition to telling you about the scholarships and aid available at that college, the staff can point you to other resources on FAFSA, student loans, etc. They want to make college affordable for you, so don’t be afraid to ask them for help!