5 ways to pay for college
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It’s no secret that college costs continue to rise. In the 2019-20 school year, tuition and fees at a four-year public university averaged $9,400, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. This is a 13% increase from the 2010-11 school year, when average costs were $8,300.
Despite rising costs, most college graduates think their degree is worth it. And luckily, there are several options available to make college more affordable. Here are five ways to pay for college.
If you need private loans to help finance your college education, visit Credible to view your prequalified student loan rates from various private lenders, all in one place.
Tips for reducing tuition fees
Before you come up with a plan on how you’re going pay for collegetake the time to understand what your study cost will be. In addition to tuition and housing, you will need to purchase books, supplies, and equipment like a laptop.
Whether you plan to commute to school or live on campus, you will need to consider transportation costs. And depending on the school you attend, you may have to pay additional fees.
With that in mind, here are some ways to lower your tuition:
- Choose a more affordable school. One of the easiest ways to save on tuition is to start at a community college. Once you have completed two years, you can transfer to a four-year university.
- Consider living at home. Living on campus can be expensive, so you can save quite a bit of money by living at home while you study. Or you can choose to live off campus and share an apartment with a roommate.
- Look for ways to save. While you’re in school, look for other money-saving opportunities. For example, you might consider renting your textbooks or carpooling to school to save money on gas.
Once you’ve exhausted your options for federal financial aid, private loans can help fill gaps in your education costs. With Credible, you can quickly and easily compare student loan rates from private lenders.
Once you’ve identified some strategies to lower your tuition, you can start thinking about how you’re going to pay for your education. Let’s look at five strategies for how to pay for college.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a form you will complete to qualify for federal assistance. Submitting the FAFSA helps you qualify for things like financial aid, federal grants, work-study programs, and more.
The FAFSA submission deadline for the 2022-23 academic year is June 30, 2023, but you’ll want to complete it as soon as possible. Federal aid is disbursed on a first-come, first-served basis, so if you delay this, you could miss vital opportunities to pay for school.
Even if you don’t think you qualify for financial aid, it’s still a good idea to complete the application. Schools consult the FAFSA when making financial aid decisions for the scholarships and grants they award.
If you are trying to figure out how to pay for your education without a loan, you should research as many scholarships and grants as possible. Students don’t have to repay scholarships, and thousands are available through schools, employers, nonprofits, and community groups.
Scholarships are available for a variety of different purposes. Some are merit-based, so you can earn them for things like academic performance. Need-based scholarships, which are awarded based on financial need, are also available.
You can use a free tool to search for scholarships, like the ones on CollegeCouncil Where Scholy. You can also contact the financial aid department of the school you plan to attend to inquire about scholarship opportunities.
Grants are another source of financial aid that you don’t have to repay. They are available from the federal and state governments, your school, and nonprofit organizations. For example, the federal Pell Grants are available to undergraduate students who can demonstrate financial need.
3. Obtain a work-study federal position
Federal work-study positions provide students with part-time jobs while they are in school. These positions are generally reserved for students with some type of financial need and can take place on or off campus.
These positions are available for full-time and part-time students. Your college administers the work-study program, so you’ll need to contact your school’s financial aid office to find a program you qualify for.
If a work-study federal position isn’t an option, you can find other ways to earn money while in school. You can seek work opportunities as a research assistant, complete a paid internship, or take a part-time job off campus.
Once you have maximized the grants and scholarships available to you, you may want to look into federal student loans. These loans are available from the US Department of Education and must be repaid.
Three main types of federal loans are available:
- Subsidized direct loans — Aavailable to undergraduate students who are in a state of financial need. As long as you are enrolled in school part-time, the federal government will pay interest on your loans for up to six months after you graduate.
- Unsubsidized Direct Loans — These loans are available to all undergraduate and graduate students, whether or not they have financial need. But you’re responsible for the interest that accrues on your student loans while you’re in college. You can make interest-only payments while in school or have the interest added to your loan principal balance.
- Direct PLUS Loans for Graduate Students, Professional Students and Parents — Two options are available for Direct Plus loans, the Grad PLUS loan and the Parent PLUS loan. These loans are subject to a credit investigation. Borrowers can still potentially qualify for a loan, even with patchy credit histories. The difference between the two is that, unlike Grad PLUS loans, borrowers are responsible for payments as soon as the loan is disbursed for Parent PLUS loans. Interest accrues for Grad PLUS loans, but borrowers do not need to make any payments while enrolled at least half-time or during the grace period after graduation.
Federal loans have several advantages that private loans do not, including lower interest rates, income-based repayment plans, and deferral or forbearance options. For these reasons, you should always exhaust your federal loan options first.
Private loans should be the last financing option for pay for college. Private lenders – like banks, credit unions, or online lenders – fund private student loans. Individual lenders set their own terms for private loans, so they tend to be more expensive, and you may need to apply with a co-signer if you have little or no credit history.
But private student loans have a few advantages. They can be a good way to fill in the gaps if your federal loans don’t cover your school’s full tuition. And you may be able to refinance your loans in the future and lower your interest rate.
If you need private student loans, shop around to find the lowest rates and most flexible repayment plans. You can use Credible student loan calculator to determine your estimated monthly payments.
If you’re ready to apply for a private student loan, Credible makes it easy to see your prequalified student loan rates from several lenders.