Whether you are just looking at colleges, an upcoming freshman, or an upperclassman- there is one thing we can all agree on- college is expensive, anyway you slice it. If you are like a majority of struggling students, you might find yourself choosing the “100,000 +” option when filling out the family income section of applications. You also may have been rejected from work-study because of this. The FAFSA could have given you nothing at all. Which may lead you to the conclusion- I am too rich for financial aid, but too broke to pay for college! If this is the case, keep reading for these strategies that will help you if you can’t afford college, but can’t receive financial aid, either!
Too poor for college, but too rich for financial aid?
Join the club- because you are not alone. My dad might be loaded, but I don’t have an extra $50,000 just laying around…. Don’t feel hopeless! There are still plenty of options.
1. Apply for a scholarship, there are so many out there.
A scholarship is a scholarship no matter how small. Some scholarships are so random you may not even know they exist! Would you rather apply for a $10,000 scholarship or 10 scholarships worth $1,000? Most people would say the first. What you may not consider is the competition for large scholarships. You may be competing against the whole country for that one check. Instead, I recommend looking for opportunities in your community or school- they may be only worth $500, but trust me- the odds of you getting the scholarships are higher that way. Besides, those scholarships add up. And now guess who doesn’t have to pay for housing?
2. Don’t rule out your dream school immediately just based on tuition.
We’ve all been there- a crisp fall day, leaves tinged with orange are falling as you tour the most beautiful college. You are mystified. That is, until you see the sticker price. $45,000 a year? Don’t fret! Almost nobody pays the sticker price. There are opportunities for merit based aid- depending on the college. Which leads me to my next point.
3. Apply to schools where your grades and test scores are higher than the average.
Three words: merit based scholarships. That $45,000 school has an average ACT of 25- and you got a 30. The average GPA is a 3.3- and you have a 3.8. Not only do these numbers help you get in, they lead to something called merit based financial aid. I go to a school where my grades and test scores were higher than most prospective students applying. Because of this, I pay almost half of what the sticker price is.
Yes, $20,000 is still a lot of money. After all, college is expensive- anyway you slice it. But you can slice the price if you try.
4. Create a budget system that works for you and learn to master it.
Yes, that Anthropologie quilt would look perfect with your tapestry- but, the price? Less perfect. Dorm decorating should be fun, but be mindful of prices. Decide beforehand your budget and stick to it! There is a lot to purchase for your dorm- tapestries and duvets are exciting. Mattress pads and laundry bins? Less so- but they still cost money.
5. Look into getting a job on campus.
To work or not to work? That is the question. For some, the answer is easy. Others? Not so much. The biggest factor in choosing to incorporate work into a busy college schedule is time. If you are worried about falling behind while picking up some dough, I suggest looking into a job at your library on campus. These jobs are often low-key and offer plenty of extra study time.