If you’re like most high school grads or considering returning to school, the notion of having to pay for it can be daunting if you don’t have a large sum of money set up. According to marketwatch.com’s 2015 study of 5,000 Americans, nearly 62 percent had less than $1,000 in savings, while another 20 percent didn’t have a savings account at all. Furthermore, according to collegedata.com, the average cost of college tuition in America today is $9,410 for in-state residents attending a public college, $23,893 for out-of-state residents attending a public college, and $32,405 for private universities for the 2015-2016 school year. These charges do not cover textbooks or living expenses if you are not living at home or with family who can assist you financially. Finally, there are ancillary costs to consider, such as computers, lab fees, tutoring, and so on. So the major question is: how does one pay for everything?
The solution is not straightforward; paying for college usually necessitates a combination of approaches. If you don’t have any money set aside for college, the most obvious answer is to fill for the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, on the US Department of Education’s website. You will learn if and what types of student loans you are eligible for by doing so. If you need to borrow money to help pay for education, this is usually the best option because interest rates are normally lower and payback terms are more flexible. However, you should only borrow money if you have exhausted all other possibilities for financing your education, as a significant student loan debt after graduation can be taxing. If you delay to start making payments on your student loan, interest will continue to build, increasing the total amount you owe and making repayment even more difficult. Consider any form of loan as though it were an emergency; don’t take out a loan unless you definitely need it!
Part Two: Free Money: I Have to Pay for College
Have you heard the phrase “nothing comes for free”? Scholarships and grants, for example, are practically “free money” for college, with some other type of expense associated. To be eligible for a scholarship at Fund for Thought, for example, you must complete an application and write an essay. The application fee ($20) and the time spent completing the essay packet would be the costs in this case. The “expense” is insignificant when contrasted to the opportunity to receive $2000 in “free money” for education. Scholarships and grants are considered “free money” since they are not repaid and are given in exchange for a specific qualification or achievement.
You should apply to as many scholarship and grant opportunities as possible. Scholarship databases online, a high school guidance counselor, or the financial aid office of the university you will be attending are the best places to look. These places usually offer comprehensive lists of current scholarship opportunities and may assist you with any concerns you may have about the application process. Local civic organizations, churches, and companies will also provide scholarships for kids in their community. You might be able to get “free money” with less competition if you look through your local newspaper and community bulletins. The bottom line is that putting in the effort to look for scholarships and grants increases your chances of earning “free money” for education.
Part Three: Scholarship Search: I Have to Pay for College
We wanted to expand on the scholarship search because there are so many options available that it might be overwhelming for a single scholar. There are various distinct types of scholarships available, each with its own set of characteristics. We felt it would be best to make a list to give you some ideas and point you in the right direction when you start your search.
1. scholarships for students in high school
2. scholarships for undergraduates
3. scholarships for masters
4. scholarships at a national level
5. scholarships for overseas students (Canadian scholarships, exchange student scholarships)
6. no-cost scholarships
7. Scholarships available online
Scholarships for full-ride
9. a scholarship for community service
10. company-sponsored scholarships (e.g., Pepsi, Walmart, and McDonald’s)
11. Scholarships based on race or ethnicity (native american scholarships, Hispanic scholarship fund)
12. Scholarships for certain fields of study (journalism scholarships, law school scholarships)
13. scholarships in underserved places (teach scholarship, early intervention scholarship)
Scholarships awarded on the basis of academic or athletic accomplishment.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it should get you started. Everyone has the opportunity to receive free money for college. You can boost your chances of receiving a scholarship by applying to as many as possible.
Michele Mackin, MBA, is a contributor to [http://www.fundforthought.com], a website that provides scholarships to undergraduate, graduate, and foreign students. Her firsthand experience paying for her own master’s degrees might help ambitious higher education students make informed decisions.