College is expensive. From tuition and fees to living expenses, students are more stressed about the affordability of their degree than ever. Many students rely on taking out loans, but many students want to limit or eliminate their need for loans at all. Luckily, there are ways to afford your education without loans.
1. Grants, including federal
Grants are a type of financial aid that you do not have to pay back. There are a number of ways to find grants, but the most common way is to fill out the FAFSA. These grants come from the federal government and are given out based on need. Make sure you know your college’s FAFSA deadline and file early to get the most grant money applicable to you.
2. Scholarships through your school or other sources
Scholarships are one of the best ways to afford your education. They do not require that you pay the money back. Scholarships are offered based on merit or need. To find scholarships, check with your school or department first. There are also several databases that have a variety of scholarships and the sites will match you with the scholarships you are most qualified for.
3. The growing popularity of crowd-sourcing
Crowdsourcing sites like GoFundMe have been growing in popularity in recent years. While these sites are mostly used for business ventures or charity fundraisers, several users have used them to get funding for their education. It is not guaranteed that your friends and family will want to give, but it is worth a shot and every little bit helps.
4. Part-time job
Though college can be busy and stressful, many students get a part-time job on or off campus to help pay for living expenses and college necessities. Other students work over the summer and other breaks to save up money for their education. If you decide to work during the semester, find something that is flexible with your school schedule as your studies come first.
5. Work-study programs
Work-study programs are another form of financial aid given through the FAFSA. These programs give eligible students a set amount of money that they work for, usually on campus. However, instead of seeing an actual paycheck, the money goes right into the student’s tuition and fees account to help cover their education.
6. 529 Plan or other savings account
When you were young, your parents may have set up a 529 Plan, which is a plan that they put money into to directly fund your education. They also may have set up a savings account that is earmarked for helping you pay for college. Use this money wisely, making sure you know what the 529 plan covers and making sure you use the savings account money for essentials.
7. Tuition reimbursement through your job
If you work, ask your human resource department or another manager about tuition reimbursement or assistance. This money often comes with stipulations, such as a commitment to stay with the company for a certain amount of time or getting a certain grade. There may also be restrictions based on what you are studying. For example, a company might not pay for a journalism degree if they are a retail store.
8. Reduce expenses
Expenses beyond the basic essentials, such as entertainment and nights out drinking, can at least be reduced. These expenses may not seem like much, but if you do them frequently, they add up. If you do want to have some fun, look for movie theaters or museums that offer special deals for students, and keep a budget that allows you to have some fun. Just be sure to stick to your budget.
9. Commute if possible
One of the biggest ways to afford your education and make a dent in those bills is commuting. College dorms and apartments are expensive, especially when coupled with other expenses needed for college. If you live within driving or walking distance or can take public transportation easily, consider commuting to cut down on the need to live on campus. These options are much less expensive in the long run, and you will not have to take out loans to cover living arrangements alone.
10. Take classes at a community college
Though community colleges have a negative stigma attached to them, they often have the same level of quality as four-year colleges. Many four-year schools have agreements with community colleges that allow you to transfer credits. Take GenEds at a community college to help reduce the cost of these courses. Many community colleges allow high school students to take classes as well.
What ways to afford your education have you used? Let us know in the comments!
Ashley is a recent graduate from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA with her Bachelor's in journalism. She love writing articles about music and Philadelphia. Ashley would love to pursue a career in journalism in New York City.