No Money for College? Think Again

According to the College Board, the current, average, yearly cost of attending college is $22,261. A private college will cost you even more, averaging just over $43,000 per year. At first glance, these numbers may make it seem like a college education is out of your reach. Fortunately, there are many ways that you can pay for college, no matter what your bank balance looks like. If you think that you don’t have the money for college, it’s time to think again.

Tips to finance your college and university education

Grants and Scholarships

The first step in finding any free money for college is to fill out the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. If you truly don’t have any money, chances are high that your expected family contribution will be close to nothing. Qualifying for grants will be fairly easy. If you had good grades in high school or in undergrad, you can also apply for scholarships. Grants and scholarships never have to be paid back, making them the first choice in monies for school.

Loans

Loans are awarded to students regardless of their financial status. This means that even if you have money for college, you don’t have to use it. It also means that you don’t have to live on Ramen noodles just so you can get an education. You can get loans from the government, banks or private entities; each has their advantages. The typical loan doesn’t have to be repaid until after you graduate with your degree or stop attending classes for a different reason.

Employer Contributions

It’s not unusual for companies to help pay their employees’ tuition. Your employer may offer to pay your tuition outright, or your employer may offer to reimburse your costs if you achieve a certain GPA. If you’re working, find out if the company for which you are employed has a college payment program for its employees. If your company doesn’t currently offer tuition assistance, talk to your HR representative about getting a program started.

Work Study

Many colleges offer a work study program that allows you to reduce the costs of your tuition. In general, the college will offer you a job on campus and they will reduce your tuition by a certain amount. If you aren’t currently working, or can afford to leave your job, this can be a great option. You won’t become a millionaire, and your paycheck will go directly to the college, but it can make an education more affordable.

Take it Slow

No one says that you have to graduate in two or four years. If you’re already working, chances are that you can take your time in graduating. Instead of taking a full course load, take one or two classes a semester. It’s often much easier to afford a few hundred dollars for one class than it is to afford thousands of dollars for a full semester’s tuition. Doing this is easier today than it has ever been before; the advent of online courses has made earning a college degree convenient.

Don’t let your lack of funds discourage you from attending college. There are always ways to get the things that you want in life; if you use the five tips above, you can find the money that you need for tuition. Start looking now and you can be enrolled in college by the very next semester.

Michelle Poland writes for finance blogs. Like numbers? If you’re interested in pursuing a degree in accounting but you don’t want to quit your job, check out the program at New England College.

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