Table of Contents
OVERVIEW OF RESOURCES 5
START WITH AN AFFORDABLE SCHOOL 6
WORK-STUDY PROGRAMS 7
FEDERAL LOANS 8
PRIVATE LOANS 8
BEST WAYS TO PAY FOR COLLEGE 10
GET THE RIGHT FIT 12
COMMUNITY COLLEGE 12
DIRECTIONAL SCHOOLS 13
WORK-STUDY PROGRAMS 13
EMPLOYER REIMBURSEMENT PROGRAMS 14
HOLDING A JOB WHILE IN SCHOOL 15
TYPES OF STUDENT LOANS 16
FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS 16
PRIVATE STUDENT LOANS 18
EASY WAYS TO EARN EXTRA MONEY 21
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The sooner you start looking for these, the better. There are many divergent types of scholarships, thousands of them. They’re not always for the academic whiz kid or super athlete either.
Among the stranger scholarships? There is a $2,000 scholarship grant for the best duck call. There are scholarship awards for designing prom dresses with Duct tape. Another gives out $1,000 to men just for being over 6’2” and women for being over 5’10.”
With so many scholarships available it’s easy to get overwhelmed. In the next chapter I’ll outline some places where you can do your research, find where they are and apply early while funding is still available. Start with an Affordable School
Consider a junior college or a community college, at least as a starting off point for your education. The advantage here is that you can get the core classes out of the way that would be the same regardless of your major. Most of these credits are pretty easy to transfer to a four-year college down the road. Be sure to ask though, because not ever credit automatically will go where you want to. Do your homework before you begin.
Technical colleges are also an affordable alternative, especially if you have a goal that involves special skills such as welding or cosmetology. Even when getting a four-year university option, look for the school with the best aid, not the lowest price. It’s possible that the highest-priced school may end up costing you less out of pocket if they have better aid options for their students.
All of this takes research. Find the places you’d like to go, then inquire about their financial aid packages and what they can offer you to help defray the cost of your education.
The best thing about grants is that they don’t have to be paid back. Again, start by filling out the FASFA paperwork. It is estimated that there are billions of dollars in unclaimed federal Pell grant money because the people who are qualified for them simply do not apply.
There are other opportunities available besides the Pell, both local and national grants. The Department of Education website has a map that will list grants being offered in your area.
Getting a college job helps out in many ways: it provides income, usually close to the campus (if not on it) with hours flexible enough to work around your class schedule. These programs also include internships that allow you to network, making connections that might prove valuable to you upon graduation. The FASFA application will let you know if you qualify for work study. If you do, then it’s a simple matter of finding out what work-study programs are already available on campus.
As a national average, a student’s family covers 34% of college tuition. That means touching savings accounts and income to pay for such things as living expenses and tuition and books. But these also require directing some of the family income to these expenses and work best when there’s been a plan in place to save for college long before you need to go.
The sort of thing you’ve been avoiding, but to fill in the gaps, a federal loan may be necessary. But use it for that – the gaps. There’s a big difference between a loan of $5,000 and one of $50,000 A rule of thumb is not to borrow more than you plan to make in the workforce after graduation. If you think you’re going to make $45,000 your first year out of college, don’t borrow more than that for your education.
If you do go with a loan, try to stick to a Federal loan and not a private loan. Federal loans are easier to work with and have income-driven repayment plans and forgiveness built in which might come in handy later.
These are the last resort option. Do not use private loans unless all the other avenues are exhausted. And even then, only use these as you need to in order to supplement the other ways you’re already using to pay your way through college.
Private loans are more demanding and rigid than federal loans and are less likely to have forgiveness should something go wrong.
Best Ways to Pay for College
So, what is the best way to pay for college?
Of all the ways to pay for college, the overriding principle is to pay without assuming a crushing debt. Ideally, this means money that you do not have to pay back. Some of this has already been discussed, but this section will review and hopefully offer more in-depth analysis of those options.
As already mentioned, there are many different types of scholarships, even ones that may seem strange on the surface. The question then is how to find them – from the mundane all the way down to the more esoteric options. Thankfully there are some good resources to aid you that are as close as your nearest internet browser.Other Details
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