Your Options for Paying for College

Paying for college is not an easy feat. That’s why millennials aged 18-29 find themselves drowning in a sea of debt equaling approximately $1 trillion dollars.

If you don’t have a scholarship that pays for tuition, there’s no need to fret — not yet, anyway. There are plenty of options when it comes to paying for college with no scholarship. You simply need to determine the right one for you.

What six options are available?


This is money that does not need to be repaid. Grants are offered by states, colleges, and the federal government — most are awarded based on financial need and can be determined based on the income reported on your FAFSA.

Your college grant should be listed on the financial aid award letter that you receive from the school you’re attending. It’s likely that this might arrive with your acceptance letter, although sometimes it’s received later.

According to CNN, some of the largest grant awards actually come from the colleges themselves. This is because colleges consider how much they think your family can afford to pay for college, then they try to assist by filling the gap with a grant.

Summer job

Make money during your break months.

As long as you’re not busy studying, earn money you can put towards your education! Whether you grab a part-time job as a barista, in retail, or an internship in the field you’re studying — use this time to your advantage.

If you’re not sure what summer jobs are best for students, read more about the best summer jobs for college students.

Private scholarships

Research private scholarships from nonprofits, companies, and community groups. There are thousands of scholarships out there that you may be eligible for, so take the time to find them.

Websites such as Scholly, which allowed students using this app to receive nearly $15 million in scholarships a few years back (CNN), can help you find the scholarships you are looking for.

Federal and private student loans

From private student loans to federal student loans, this may be exactly what you need to pay off the remaining amount for college. Consider loans to be your absolute last resort; however, you are likely to end up here if savings, grants, and scholarships aren’t enough to cover the full cost of college.

You may lean more towards federal student loans because of the borrower protections and lower interest rates, so don’t forget to fill out the FAFSA! You will not be able to get a federal student loan without one.

Regardless of your family’s income, you should be eligible to borrow up to $5,500. You may even qualify for subsidized loans (meaning you won’t pay accruing interest until you graduate) if you demonstrate more financial need.

We have some of the best private student loan rates, check them out here! 

Work-study jobs

These part-time jobs are either on or close to campus, and pay students directly. Unfortunately, the amount you earn cannot go over your work-study award for the year.

Like applying for a federal student loan, you MUST submit the FAFSA in order to qualify for a work-study job.

Now, perhaps you don’t qualify for a work-study job, but you could still search for part-time positions while you’re in school or on summer break such as dog walking, tutoring or anything related to your studies.

The moral of the story here is to make money where you can.

Claim your tax credit

After paying for fees, books, tuition, and room costs, you can reduce taxes up to $2,500 a year per child (IRS). This can help you save a little more money.

For more information on paying for college, continue reading with How to find money for college.

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