Finding funds to pay for college is rarely easy for anyone, especially with the rising cost of education.
According to collegeboard.org, today’s college education costs approximately $42,419 per year for a four-year private school and $18,943 per year for an in-state, four-year public school. Tuition and fees at today’s colleges continue to increase at approximately 3% per year.
Finding the funds to pay for college may seem to like an overwhelming challenge for students and their parents alike. We’ve compiled a list of suggestions to help you better navigate some of the different avenues that could help lighten, or at least defer, your financial obligations until after you graduate.
Here are seven ways to manage your tuition costs and potentially save you money!
- Earn college credits while still in high school. You may be able to start managing your college tuition costs even before you graduate. Advanced placement classes are available in many high schools, as is the option for dual enrollment at a local college for those who qualify. Colleges have specific requirements when it comes to accepting these class credits, so make sure you clearly understand the rules in advance.
- Find out what your state has to offer. Although not the only factor to consider, choosing an affordable, in-state school will make one of the biggest impacts in reducing the cost of your college education. In addition to typically less expensive tuition costs, many states offer a unique scholarship or grant program to state residents based on reaching and sustaining a specific GPA. Be sure to investigate all the state programs available to you so you’re able to weigh the pros and cons of public vs. private, as well as an in-state vs. out-of-state resident status from all perspectives.
- Do a thorough scholarship search. The best way to pay for college is with scholarship dollars. Scholarships are available through a variety of different avenues, including school networks, alumni organizations, religious organizations, corporations, and community organizations, and can be awarded for any number of qualifications. Your guidance counselor can help identify scholarships that fit your profile, but don’t stop there. The more research you put into it on your own, the more success you’ll have at finding other potential opportunities to receive funding.
- Study for the best SAT/ACT score possible. They’re one of the most heavily weighted factors in whether or not you’re accepted into college, but equally as important, they’ll help to identify you as a candidate for an academic scholarship. These highly competitive scholarships consider grades and test scores so the better your performance, the greater your chance for a monetary award.
- Apply for financial aid. For the 2017–18 year, students will be able to apply for financial aid between October 1, 2016, and June 30, 2018. Complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to see if you qualify for federal grants, low-cost federal student loans or a work-study program that can help pay for college. It can cover such expenses as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation, and other related expenses. Think you won’t qualify? Don’t be foolish — apply anyway! Many students are amazed to find what’s available to them.
- Borrow Private Student Loans. If you’ve exhausted all of your other options and still have a sizable gap in your college funding needs, a private student loan is another option. It is, however, one of the most expensive forms of borrowing. Be sure to compare loan terms with multiple providers since there can be a wide range of rates, fees and repayment plans available.
- Become a Resident Assistant. Your options for paying for college don’t stop once you’ve settled in. Although you’re not able to become a Resident Assistant (RA) as a freshman, consider the opportunity during your sophomore, junior, and senior year. You’ll receive a small monthly stipend, but the extra financial benefit of free room and board can add up to substantial savings. As an extra perk, you’ll also get to move into the dorm earlier, too, before all the chaos begins!
Finding funds to pay for college is rarely easy for anyone, especially with the rising cost of education. Reducing the burden is most often a combination of many things – financial aid, loans, savings, scholarships, and any other creative measures you can employ. The more extensive your search for funding options now, the less debt you’ll have to manage upon graduation, the value of which will be priceless!