How To Pay For College: 8 Expert
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Asking How do I pay for college? is like asking, How do I get healthy? or, How do I learn another language? There are lots of answers, but theres not always one clear path.
If youre like most students and families, youll cobble together funds from multiple sources. Some types of financial aid are better than others, so use the following advice in this order:
Employer Tuition Assistance Programs
Many large companies offer tuition assistance programs, also known as tuition reimbursement plans, which cover the cost of college classes for their employees.
According to the IRS, employers can provide up to $5,250 per year in educational assistance tuition, fees, books, equipment, and supplies to their employees without counting it as part of their wages. That means that you dont have to pay taxes on it.
Check with your human resources department to find out if your employer has a tuition assistance program. If it does, get a copy of the written plan to learn details like:
- What kinds of classes it covers
- How it handles payments
Schools That Offer Generous Merit
If you’re a high-achieving student but don’t think you’ll qualify for much need-based aid based on your family’s finances, you should look into schools that offer generous merit scholarships. Schools with generous merit-based aid programs often offer scholarships to attract competitive students.
If you have a particular talent , or if you have high grades and test scores, you could be offered some pretty large scholarships. If you’re interested in a particular school, just google ” scholarships” to see what sort of aid they offer. You can also start by checking our list of schools with the best financial aid.
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Ascent Student Loans Disclosures
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1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions, please visit AscentFunding.com/Cashback. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student borrowers must meet certain minimum credit criteria. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner. Lowest APRs are available for the most creditworthy applicants and may require a cosigner.
Trim Expenses And Tap Assets
Here are some additional strategies to help pay for college with no savings:
Cut discretionary expenses. This can free up money for college bills. The usual suspects: eating out less, buying used instead of new, vacationing cheaply, combing your bills for leaks such as memberships or subscriptions youre not using. If your student is attending college more than 100 miles away and wont have a car, your auto insurer may give you an away-from-home discount.
Take advantage of tax breaks.Education tax credits, such as the American Opportunity or Lifetime Learning credit, also may help if you don’t have money for college.
Sell nonretirement investments and other assets. This can help pay for college while possibly increasing financial aid in future years. Consult a tax pro first, since asset sales can have tax consequences.
Dont pause retirement contributions, however. You cant get back the tax breaks and company matches youll lose, or the future tax-deferred earnings that money could have earned. Retirement is even more expensive than a college education, and few of us can afford to stop saving for that goal.
This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press.
About the author:Liz Weston is a columnist at NerdWallet. She is a Certified Financial Planner and author of five money books, including “Your Credit Score.”Read more
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Apply For Private Student Loans
Private student loans are another way to cover the cost of college. However, theyre generally considered to be the last resort option, even compared to federal student loans. Private loans typically require a credit check to get approved, which means that it can be tough to qualify as a college student with little or no credit history.
Even if you get approved, your interest rate is based on your creditworthiness, so your loans could be expensive.
With that said, most lenders allow co-signers, which can help you qualify and get a low interest rate. However, this also means the loans show up on the co-signers credit report, which could make it difficult for them to get approved for credit in the future.
Even so, if youve exhausted your allotment of federal student loans, which are capped on an annual and aggregate basis, private student loans can be a much better option than higher-interest options like credit cards and personal loans.
Pay It With Friends & Family
If you have the trust and support, family funding is the best alternative. You can focus on studying and not worry about anything else. In fact, one of most parents goals is to save for childrens education.
However, emotion goes hand in hand with money. You wouldnt be willing to support someone who ends up misusing your money. Maybe you dont want the risk of trusting a student with no earning experience.
If you have the chance, use it wisely. If you dont, be careful not to put your family in a tight spot. As youve seen, there are many ways to study for free and still win the job interview.
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Common Mistakes When Enrolling In College
What was your impression of college when you just finished high school? If youve been there already, how do you look at it now?
When you enroll in college for the first time, its going to be different from what you expect. Youve never done it before, so its normal to encounter obstacles along the way.
Failing to accept this expectation gap leads to the first mistake:
Make An Intelligent Decision About Choosing College
This does not necessarily imply selecting the institution only with the cheapest listed cost according to conventional opinion. If you may enter into a prestigious Ivy League institution, for example, you may discover that they dont cost any admission.
Also for upper-middle-income households, several of the top well-known institutions offer generous benefits packages. The best approach is to qualify to a variety of schools.
Consider several of the lower-cost local public institutions which well discuss in a bit. But dont forget about the most prestigious and pricey schools.
Afterward, when applying for non-loan financial help, examine the colleges depending on their exact costs.
After that, pick a college that you can manage as well as still having a quality curriculum in your desired field.
Keep in mind that, contrary to popular belief, potential administrators are less concerned with the school from which your degree was earned as long as you completed the required courses and performed well in your program.
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Ask Friends Family And Even Strangers
For college students, money is always a helpful birthday, holiday, and graduation gift. But this year ask your friends and family to skip the birthday card and send you money via your profile on websites like Edulender or Sponsor My Degree. These crowd-funding sites allow students to collect money from family members, friends, and even strangers to put towards their tuition or student debt.
How To Talk To Your Parents About Applying For Financial Aid
If your parents can’t or won’t pay for college expenses, they may be wary about filling out a FAFSA or giving out financial information for need-based scholarships. It’s important to assure them that submitting a complete FAFSA with their financial information does not obligate them to help you pay for college. The FAFSA has nothing to do with your bills or college expenses…it’s simply an aid application.
Bottom line: if they refuse to help you with your FAFSA, they’re not protecting themselves. They’re just impeding you from qualifying for financial aid.
What if, though, they’re just overwhelmed by the process of completing and submitting a FAFSA?
If this is the case, you can let them know that the FAFSA only takes 2-3 hours to complete. You could even do it on your own if you have your family’s financial information handy:
- Social Security Numbers for you and your parents
- Alien Registration Numbers
- Recent federal tax returns, W-2s, and other records or income for both you and your parents
- Any records of untaxed income
The sooner you submit your FAFSA, the better, so don’t put off having these discussions with your parents or guardians!
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Rent Out Your Possessions
Thanks to the latest shared economy trend, theres good money in renting out your own things. If you live off-campus, consider renting out a spare bedroom on AirBnB, or make the whole place available when you head home on weekends or breaks. If you have a car, you can make that available for people to rent through apps like Getaround and Turo. If you live in a city and rent a parking space, you can even rent that out on JustPark.
Who Qualifies As An Independent
You may be considered independent if:
- You’ll be 24 or older by 12/31 of the school year for which you’re applying for aid
- You’ll be in school for a post-grad degree
- You’re married or separated
- You have children who receive more than half of their financial support from you
- You have dependents who live with you and receive more than half of their financial support from you
- You were a ward/dependent of the court, in foster care, or both your parents were deceased at any point after you turned 13
- You’re an emancipated minor or in a legal guardianship as determined by a court
- You’re an unaccompanied youth who is homeless, or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless
- You’re currently serving on active duty in the US armed forces for purposes other than training
- You’re a veteran of the US armed forces
The FAFSA asks all necessary questions to determine independent/dependent student status, so just answer the prompts honestly when you fill out the application.
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Take Advantage Of Employer Reimbursement Programs
There are a ton of different companies that offer to pay either half or all of an employees college tuition. This include IBM, UPS, Chipotle, Chrysler, and Starbucks, to name a few. In fact, for any employee working a minimum of 20 hours a week, Starbucks offers to pay half of their tuition through freshman and sophomore year, then full tuition reimbursement for their junior and senior year. Most of these companies dont even require the employee to remain with the company after graduation.
Apply For Grants And Scholarships
There are thousands of programs, institutions, companies and organizations that give away free money. Grants are based on need, while scholarships are based on merit .
You can apply for grants and scholarships at the federal level when you complete your FAFSA, ask your high school guidance counselor if youre eligible for any local programs or apply for scholarships offered by specific colleges. To find independent scholarships, you may also use online tools like Scholarships.com,Fastweb and the College Boards scholarship search. You can narrow your search based on any number of factors, including but not limited to:
- Physical disabilities.
The earlier you start your search, the more free money you could qualify for. Many grants and scholarships are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so the sooner you apply, the more money you could score.
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How To Pay For College With No Money Finance Your Educational Future
Before you start diving in, Im going to make a few assumptions as to why youre reading this.
1.Youve already graduated from high school There are other opportunities to maximize potential before graduation. If youre already past that though, keep reading.
2.You know what you want to study This is going to be a more one-size-fits-all approach. Its also going to be for those who are positive they want to pursue higher education. Remember, once you register and pass the refund date, youre expected to pay the tuition in full. So really think about the consequences of making a half-*ssed decision.
3.You really have NO MONEY No help from mom and/ or dad, no inheritance, no savings, no secret buried treasure you found under an X when I say NO MONEY, I mean NO MONEY.
With that out of the way, lets read about some ways you can finance your educational future without crippling debt.
Whether youre 21 or 71, trying to pay for college is no small feat.
When you look at the National Center for Education Statistics, an average year of tuition from 2000-2001 at a public 4-year institution was $11,993 Fifteen years later from 2015-2016, it was $19,488. Thats a 62.5% increase.
Public 2-year institutions arent much better. From 2000-2001, the average year of tuition was $6,706 Fifteen years later from 2015-2016, it was $10,091, a 50.5% increase.
I can only imagine theyve risen ever so slightly within the last few years.
So, lets get started.
How To Find College Scholarship Money
Free scholarship search sites, such as fastweb.com and bigfuture.com, also match a student’s background against a database of scholarships.
A typical high school senior could match with as many as 50 to 100 scholarships, Kantrowitz said.
“You should always apply to every scholarship you are eligible for,” he advised.
Alexis Simon, 17, is applying for 20 to 30 scholarships. “I don’t know what the money is going to look like, but I’m definitely never, ever going to give up,” said Simon, who attends a performing arts high school in New York.
While that may seem like an overwhelming task coupled with college applications and coursework, much of the same material can be used for each scholarship submission with only minor tweaks, Kantrowitz said.
Further, the more scholarships you get, the more you are likely to get going forward, Lewis added.
“As they start receiving awards, they can use that credential for additional scholarships.”
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Shopping For Student Loans
One of the best ways to get immediate financing to pay for school is by taking out a loan. If youve exhausted federal loans in the students name, private student loans can be a viable option.Private student loans are there for families who need extra financing for college, says Angela Colatriano, Chief Marketing Officer, College Ave Student Loans. Do your research not all private are the same. Shop for one with a simple application, flexible repayment terms, good interest rate, and great customer service.
offers private student loans that fit your needs, goals and budget, with competitive interest rates and flexible repayment options. Our takes 3 minutes to complete, and youll get an instant credit decision so you can pay for school without the worry.
Look At Affordable Alternatives
In many states, you have a flagship state university and then you have what are known as directional schools. A directional school is simply any school with a description of where it is geographically located in the name, like Central Michigan University, where Clark got his masters degree. These kinds of schools tend to devote more of their money to classroom teaching rather than to faculty research. In general, they have higher efficiency and lower tuition.
So if you look at a directional school, you may save a substantial amount of money on education.
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Things To Consider When Paying For School
College students spend between $13,700-$27,000 annually in college costs after accounting for scholarships and grants. In 2019, a Sallie Mae survey found that parents provided 30% of college costs on average, leaving students to pay for most costs themselves. Many students do not receive any financial support from their parents when it comes to paying for college.
How can students pay for college without help from their parents? Fortunately, students can save money and pay for college alone by choosing an affordable college, calculating their financial need, and researching financial aid options. This guide walks through paying for college and saving money in college.
Instead Of Pursuing A Four
Last but not least, whoever says you have to go to a formal university to start with? Many industries do not charge tuition for learning a valuable skill upon the job, and even compensate you to study throughout an educational program.
If youre interested in learning new methods that have been proven out all about internships in your region, Apprenticeship.gov has a tool that enables you to identify these possibilities in any postcode across the country.
Plumbers, sprinkler fitter, woodwork, and iron tools are shared spaces that offer a special apprenticeship, and other professions provide this kind of opportunity. According to the Ministry Of Employment, the median trainee earns $15 per hour while learning, which seems a tad stronger than taking loans to go to four-year schools or longer.
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