Attending college should be some of the best years of your life. Unfortunately, this can be stressful if you are worried about how you are going to pay for everything.
When it comes to paying for college, especially without the help of a parent or guardian, it is even more important to take the time to plan and chart your path to college early. Not only does it give you the opportunity to describe your specific career interests and determine what you are looking for in a college experience, but it can also save you a lot of money and reduce tuition costs.
Here are seven ways that you can afford college on your own.
Many colleges and universities offer vibrant work-study programs. With this type of system, you earn money as you attend school. Some programs will also allow you to earn college credit at the same time. You can boost your overall resume by choosing a position that pairs well with your chosen field of study. These employers also understand that college is your top priority, making it easier to balance the demands than with a traditional job.
You are not alone if you need to lean on a student loan to help to pay for your college expenses. Even if you do not have a qualified adult to help you to secure a cosigned loan, you can find student loans without cosigner options. According to Ascent Funding, you can “check your prequalified rates without impacting your credit score.” Once you know the amount and rates that you qualify for, you can begin planning a roadmap to get you to where you need to be financial to pay for your college education. Even if you do not have a credit history yet, you are still eligible to apply for this type of loan.
Money that you can borrow and that you must payback. Before you immediately choose the largest offer of financial aid, take a step back and review your offers to decide which one is best for you. For example, a smaller financial support offer with more free money (scholarships, grants, work-study programs) may be better than a larger financial support with more loans (because these eventually must be repaid and generally with interest).
Get a part-time job or side hustle during college
If you have time and want to maintain a steady source of income while you are in school, consider landing a part-time job or starting the brawl. Not only can a stable income help you with daily expenses that you can find in school, but you can also use disposable income on your tuition, books or pay off student loans while you are in school.
From working on campus or finding a paid internship to teaching other students or doing seasonal work, college students can have many ways to make money in college.
You will be surprised at how much money you can sock away if you work full-time over the summer. Take advantage of this downtime from school to earn money that you can stretch out over the course of the academic year when you are busier with your studies. Take this one step further by working a seasonal job over your holiday or semester break. Stashing away some cash when you can help to get you through those leaner times.
Choose a Less Expensive Option
It is important to remember that you have choices when it comes to college. You do not have to spend a small fortune to get an education. By choosing a less expensive state school over a private option, you will automatically likely lower your tuition bill. This will make it more affordable for you to get that college degree without going into debt. There are also a variety of online options at a much lower cost than you may want to consider.
Put your personal savings and income towards college
When it comes to paying for college, first look at your personal savings and current income to identify what available funds can be used to pay for college. To determine the amount of personal savings to be used to pay for college, make sure the amount you choose is an amount you are most comfortable with and can afford. While you plan to spend as much of your own money as possible to pay for college, make sure you do not lose your personal savings significantly and damage your financial security.
When it comes to using your current income to pay for college, set aside a certain percentage of your income each pay period to help build your college savings over time. Every income and personal savings that you can contribute to college reduces the amount of money you will need to borrow.
Scholarships and Grants
Every year, billions of dollars of scholarships and grants go unclaimed. That money could have your name on it if you are willing to look hard to find it. Your high school or college counselor is generally a good resource to help you to narrow down your best options at securing this aid. While grants are normally need-based, scholarships tend to be awarded on merit.
In addition to using a scholarship search tool, be sure to check out the college’s financial aid website to see what scholarship opportunities they offer or recommend to students. Also, be sure to browse through various financial aid organizations and websites on your own to see what other college scholarships are available. You can also call your office for financial support and ask what is available.
These seven options are a great start when looking for ways to afford college when you are on your own to find the funding.