The costs of college are continuing to rise, and more and more families are unable to afford to provide their children with a higher education. With many students holding thousands of dollars in debt from loans, finances can be a real issue. There is still hope, though, if you find yourself in a bind. If you anticipated more parental support, or some scholarship opportunities fell through, here are some alternatives to help you pay for college yourself, even if you hadn’t planned on it before:
1. Define your priorities and make a plan.
It’s time to reconsider why you decided to go to college. Are you looking for an education? A crazy experience? Extra time before you have to head out into the real world? Make sure you’re going into school with the right reasons before you stress about affording it.
Once you know that higher education is right for you, it’s time to plan some sacrifices. You need to create a budget and cut costs in any way you can. Maybe you can live at home and commute, or perhaps you can deal with a slimmer meal plan. How about buying used or renting textbooks? Or, though not ideal, going to a less expensive college? (Check out some other college cost-cutting ideas here.) Decide sooner rather than later what you can cut to keep your college expenses low.
2. Continue your search for scholarships.
The scholarship search didn’t end in high school. Sites like ScholarshipPoints give you quick, easy ways to find funding for school, and there are many more out there. Have a goal of continuing to apply for scholarships, even if you can only do one application each week. Even the little ones can add up quickly, so you have nothing to lose. Plus, this financial aid is the best, because you don’t need to pay it back!
3. Consider telecommuting jobs.
If you don’t have the time for a part-time, on-site job alongside your studies, try a telecommuting gig, like freelance writing or taking online surveys. You can fit these jobs into your schedule, and do as much or as little as you want. More information on this is available all over the Internet, but the key to telecommuting is finding the right job, and ensuring that it isn’t a scam. Do your research, and see if this kind of career can be beneficial for you. For extra points, try to find something that doubles as a resume-booster!
4. Talk to your financial aid office.
If you still need extra help, it’s time to head to the financial aid office. They’ve helped hundreds of other students in similar positions to you, and they know how to help. They want everyone to be able to go to their school, so they’re willing to work with you as much as they can. If you’re lucky, they might be able to get you a better loan or even an extra grant.
The financial aid office (as well as your own academic department) staff will also be able to recommend other tips, in addition to these, to help you afford your education. It can be a rough, challenging road to find funding, but if you ask for help and work hard, you can afford the degree you’ve worked so hard for.