Having a college degree has been proven to increase your earning potential over the rest of your life. That being said, the initial investment in a college education can be intimidating. But there are ways to finance your college degree without having all of the money necessary upfront.
The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is free to fill out and will let you know if you qualify for any federal aid based on your personal information. By filling out this application, you are opening yourself up to the opportunity of receiving both grants and loans. Different aid programs include the Pell Grant which is money you are not required to repay for students who qualify for financial need-based aid and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant specifically for undergrad students, which also does not need to be paid back. Through the FAFSA you can also qualify for two sets of loans offered by the Federal Direct Student Loan Program: Subsidized which is based on financial need and Unsubsidized which is not. You can also qualify for the Federal Work-Study Program. This is a program where you can apply for positions on your campus and a portion of your pay is subsidized by the government. Completing the FAFSA can be required when applying for scholarships and other financial programs, so there are a couple of reasons that submitting the application can be useful.
2. Student Loans
There are many options when applying for student loans. Student loans can come in handy because depending on your situation, you might not be able to find enough free aid or save up enough money to pay for your schooling. As a future student, you can apply for these loans alone or add a cosigner depending on the age of your credit. Adding a cosigner can even lower your interest rate.
Scholarships are essentially free money that allow you to pay for your college classes, fees, housing, food, and materials. Because scholarships are so lucrative, you will want to apply to as many as possible to create as many potential opportunities to receive money. Keep in mind there are scholarships for everything you can think of and they are offered by many different institutions. Start with your school: many colleges have their own scholarships depending on your school of study. If you are a student-athlete, artist, or budding scientist, you can inquire whether or not your school has any scholarships specific to these areas. Outside of your school, many different professional, as well as nonprofit, organizations offer scholarships. If you identify as LGBTQIA, then look into groups that offer scholarships specifically for students who are. If you are Irish, there are organizations that offer specifically Irish student scholarships. If you are a baker, then there are organizations that offer scholarships for bakers. The options are endless when searching for scholarships, so be creative.
4. Cut Costs
Cutting costs can be extremely helpful when financing your college career. Consider applying to a state school close to you; typically in-state tuition for a public university will be cheaper because the school assumes you will live, work, and pay taxes in that area. Housing can be ridiculously expensive, so if you already live close to your school and it is a possibility, stay with your family off-campus. This can also cut your food costs because you have the ability to eat at home. Buying your textbooks used and online can also help you save money over the course of your college education.
5. Save Money
The most obvious solution to affording your college degree is saving money from working and gifts. You can start a college fund at a young age and put any birthday or Christmas money from relatives in it. Then when you are old enough to work, you can put a portion or all of your paycheck in. Research specific accounts that are available to save for your education.
Related: 5 Ways To Succeed In Post Grad Life