How to pay for collegeThis is a guest post from Nicole regarding the common ways to pay for college.

Paying for college isn’t getting any easier, especially if you’ve been in out of high school and in the workforce for a few years. Finding ways to pay for college is no longer a matter of filling out a few student loan forms. With the economic climate as it has been, many people no longer have stellar credit, and finding money available through government programs is getting harder every year. If you’re hoping to send yourself or your teenager to college, one of the best solutions to paying for it is to use the a la carte method – get a little bit from several sources to fill out your budget requirements.

College Scholarships

The advantage to finding college scholarships is that you don’t have to pay back what you get. Depending on whether you attend a public or private college, and pay the in-state or out-of-state tuition schedule, a single year of college can cost between $15,000 and $60,000, according to statistics from CNN Money. Those figures include tuition, room and board, university administrative fees and living expenses. That’s a lot of money to cover in scholarships alone, but earning even a small award can put a dent in the amount you have to find through other sources. Three are thousands of scholarships available. They’re not just for first-year students and stellar academics, either. Athletics, major fields of study, financial need, ethnic-based and religious affiliation scholarships are also widely available. Some scholarships require you to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form; others don’t. Read through the requirements for each one carefully. You – or your child – will probably need to provide an essay or participate in a special project as part of the guidelines. College transcripts and board exams may come into play. The trick is to apply for the ones that fit the mold of your background, interests and qualifications.

Student Loans

Government and private student loans are an appealing a la carte menu option to use when all others have been exhausted. Some ways to improve your chances of getting a student loan include securing a parent-student loan, having a co-signer and keeping the amount you request low. There are several strategies you can use to pay off student loans faster once you’ve gotten one. If possible, start paying at least the interest amount while you’re still in school. Make your payments on time to avoid late fees and higher interest rates. Another way to pay them back faster is to pay higher amounts than required.

Working While In School

Working while going to school has its challenges. It reduces the amount of money going out the door by keeping some coming in, but it takes drive and determination to make it work. It also takes flexible work scheduling and a lot of energy. One great advantage is that some employers help their employees to go to college. From the little things, like adjusting hours and schedules, to the bigger things, like tuition matching and reimbursement programs, this is a source of assistance that often goes untapped. Tap it.

By pooling together money from a number of different sources, the idea of paying for college isn’t quite so daunting. If you think of it as choosing items off an a la carte menu, you’ll be rewarded with a potential career path, a better-paying job and a higher level of education. That’s the icing on the cake.

Author Bio: Nicole is an independent writer for CollegeAnswer.com. College Answer offers information on saving, planning and paying for college.

Photo via Tax Credits

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9 Comments

  1. My sister is still a freshman college taking up Nursing and this summer she is planning to find a for a summer job. Last summer she was working as a part time V.A and it only lasted for three months because she was too busy with her studies.

  2. Grants are another great way to find money to pay for college. I’d recommend paying as you go (as you can afford it) over getting student loans…especially private loans and, more specifically, ones requiring a co-signer.

  3. I heard on TV the other day that thousands of students don’t fill out FAFSA each year, but they actually qualify for grants. Why would anyone turn down free money?!

  4. Great ideas for paying for college! Paying for college is a big undertaking but if you can plan how to pay for it, it can be manageable. Scholarships, grants and campus jobs are great ways to pay for school as well as add to your accomplishments and work experiences. Working while you are in school can be challenge but on campus jobs give students great flexibility in order to attend class and study. These jobs can give you valuable work experience and possibly help you land your first “real” job out of college!

    1. College is a big undertaking. If you plan for it well enough in advance, then you could pay for it all without even dealing with loans.

  5. Great post! I just want to ask if a college student is already in his/her sophomore year will he/she be able to get scholarship or scholarship is applicable on a freshmen students only? BTW I’m glad that I accidentally found your blog while searching for some great stuff about college life. I liked your writing style, but I noticed you only write a post once in a while. Looking forward for more of your awesome post. You are an inspiration.