Earning a degree is proven to be a worthwhile investment, but sometimes you need a little help rounding up the money to invest. There are countless ways to receive funding and help pay for your education. Tuition prices tend to go up every year, but it’s nothing to panic about if you know the tricks to getting financial aid and scholarships. Below, we’ve outlined a few key things for you to know when it comes to finding college money.
- Fill out the FAFSA. The The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (or the FAFSA) is a form you can fill out each year that determines if you qualify for free federal money or loans. Generally, if you make under a certain annual income (which is quite possible if you are going to school full time) and meet other qualifications like not being claimed as a dependent on your parents’ taxes, or having children of your own, you can qualify for some free money–grants– from the government to go toward school. If you don’t meet the criteria for grants, you’ll most likely qualify for a student loan. Many times they offer reasonable interest rates and don’t make you start paying until you graduate, making it easier to have a higher paying job and start making payments.
- Ask your school about their scholarships. Every school has donors and scholarship funds set up for students with a variety of different backgrounds. They can be based solely off of academics, be awarded to specific programs and majors within the school, or be given based off of overcoming challenging life situations. Each school has unique offerings and an enrollment counselor can give you all of the information you need.
- Search online for private scholarships. Outside of school offerings, there are many companies and outside donors that will award scholarship money for any learning institution. Many people think that colleges are the only option to receive scholarships from, but there are plenty of outside sources looking to help serious students pay for their schooling.
- Seek out “work study” opportunities. Many colleges and universities offer employment known as work study. This means that students work in varying capacities at the school for a slightly lower hourly wage, but receive discounted or in some cases free tuition in exchange. Generally you need to qualify for work study status by proving you don’t have the money to pay for tuition on your own, and enrollment counselors can give you more information about the work study program at their institution.
- Try to find employment at a company that offers tuition reimbursement. There are many companies that see the benefit in having an educated workforce and will offer partial or full tuition reimbursement exchange for committing to work for them for a certain period of time.
If none of these options work for you, consult your school’s financial aid counselors. They have vast resources and are committed to helping you find ways to bring your dreams to reality.