How Can I Pay for College?

How a student pays for college depends on many factors. The most important question to be answered is when should a student start “saving” for college? My answer to that question is “when the student enters this world as a newborn”. The very fortunate students are those who had parents who began saving money at birth. There are many financial instruments in which parents can invest, such as 529 accounts, plus many states have their own state educational bonds.

However, for most students there will not be trust funds or yearly family income available for college costs without borrowing, receiving federal financial aid or receiving college scholarships. Paying for colleges becomes a reality to most college students when they are admitted and the real cost of college becomes apparent. This is less than ideal, and can often cause students to panic. But late starts are typical and there are many avenues available to help students.

College scholarships are the best sources for paying for college because these awards do not have to be repaid. Of course, being awarded college scholarships typically depends on academics, specific talents wanted by a college or financial need. Scholarships are awarded by universities and private organizations, each with their own criteria for applying and awarding. Unfortunately, most students do not receive enough scholarship funding to cover the entire cost of Aegean College.

So the big question becomes how to deal with a gap in funding. The most important step in paying for college is to apply for federal student aid, or FAFSA. However, many students may not be eligible for federal aid. Some students will begin by attending a community college for the first two years to be able to take the general education courses and save money. Some students will join the military and have the armed services help with their educational costs. Other students will work part time or full time while attending college.

Working and attending college at the same time requires good time management skills, and a plan on how many courses can be handled each semester while working. To receive federal financial aid students must be enrolled full time. This typically means taking a minimum of 12 credit hours.

Another strategy to finding a way to pay for college is for students to apply to colleges who will want to “buy” them and give them college scholarships. This means looking at less competitive colleges or smaller schools. Do not confuse the degree of difficulty of being admitted to school with the excellence of the education.

Remember that college admission is often based on supply and demand, and there are colleges that just receive way too many applications and can only admit a small percentage of the applicants. This does not mean that colleges who admit a larger percentage of their applicants are not as good academically. Keep the bigger picture, which is to get a college education that provides you with the skills to be successful, in mind. Take a look at where the Fortune 500 individuals attended college and you will see it is not the name of the college that moved them along to the road of success.

Colleges that are really interested in a student will provide college scholarship money. Search for those colleges. You are encouraged to be resourceful prior to going to college and use the web to search out college scholarships both offered by individual colleges or outside organizations. Believe it or not, there are some colleges that do not charge any tuition such as Berea and Cooper Union College. There are also colleges that allow students to lock in a tuition rate for the four years of college.

Finishing college in four years can help keep down costs. Campuses may provide opportunities for odd jobs or freelance work to bring in money. Do not overlook the opportunities that exist for doing community work that will provide money to pay for college. Public service jobs are well known for helping students to pay off their debt.

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