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Tips for Financing College

Congratulations, you’ve been admitted to college! But what now?
College is incredibly expensive, with students spending $25,000 - $50,000 a year on tuition alone. Then, there’s the cost of books, housing, food, and more. There is financial aid, but it can often be tricky to land. With the large influx of middle class students, it can be very hard to get the financial aid you need. And it doesn’t mean you have the money to pay for it by any means. But you’re still stuck with a huge bill.
So, how do you finance college? Luckily, there are things you can do to reduce your college costs, boost your savings, and maybe even get some financial aid this fall:
  • File your FAFSA. FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is the document that the federal government uses to assess financial need. Even if you don’t think you will receive any money, file it anyways. FAFSA is starting to factor in more aid resources, so you may be able to receive some federal aid. Take this document seriously, as it can help you save a lot of money by giving you a grant or loan. Do your research, gather every piece of data you may need, and file it by the due date. 
  • Stay in state. Many students want to go out of state for college. Although this may seem fun, factor in the costs before you commit. Out of state tuition can be double the price of normal tuition, and that doesn’t count transportation back and forth from your home. Plus, other states may have higher costs of living. 
  • Apply for national and local scholarships. Scholarships can help pay for your schooling, and you won’t even need to pay them back. So, take a look at scholarships you are fit for. There are thousands of them, often offered by schools, employers, nonprofits, religious groups, and professional and social organizations. For example, if you are good at music, apply for some music scholarships. You’d be surprised how much money you can get.
  • Look into other lenders. If you’ve applied for federal aid and scholarships and haven’t gotten any, look into alternative lenders. Many banks offer student loans. These can easily pay for your college. But, it is important to do your research before you get into a contract you don’t want to be in. Check the interest rates, and know what will happen if you defer. Finding the right loan may take time, but it’ll be worth it in the end.
  • Keep your grades high. Regardless of your income, many students can receive merit-based aid. So, if you have high grades and are academically competitive, you are likely to receive aid. Search for some merit-based aid programs that will give only the most talented students aid. Apply to these programs, and keep your grades up through school to continue receiving the aid awards.
  • Work through college. Although college is difficult, it is also difficult to pay for. So, if it’s possible for you, get a job on the side. It may be part time, but every little bit of money saved up counts. Even if you can only work on summer and winter breaks, you will be able to save just a little bit more for your education.
College doesn’t have to break your bank. And you surely shouldn’t give up going to college just because you don’t know how to finance it. By following these tips and staying on track, you’ll be able to finance your degree! 

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Alice Bryant's picture

Alice Bryant is the Editor of Creditnet and a personal finance expert with over a decade of experience writing about credit cards, credit scores, debt repair, and more.

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