For many, the largest hurdle that keeps them from obtaining an upper-level education is the sum it takes to obtain it.
Luckily, in today’s day and age, there are many different ways to fund your college education, at least in-part. Here are some you can consider.
- Job Sponsorship
First, the most obvious. Get a job.
My cousin, every summer after she turned 13, worked at summer camp. I, from the day I turned 16, went out and found a job at a movie theater. I have several other cousins who mow lawns on the weekends to afford gas. Whether you are still in school or not, those who have mastered the art of time management and responsibility, should be able to consistently hold a job. Where most people go wrong is that they then turn around and spend every cent that they earn. Instead, try to save 30% of every pay check. Instead of going out to eat or purchasing snacks during your breaks, try packing a lunch. Rather than buying coffee on the way into work each day, invest in a coffee maker and bring your caffeine to work. There are many ways that working can provide funds but it takes a little extra self-control to earmark those funds for your education.
Scholarships tend to be merit-based; they’re given out for good grades or being a solid athlete. Grants tend to be needs-based; they’re given out based on your family’s financial situation. What you really need to know about both is that they don’t need to be paid back. They are, quite literally, free money for your education. Quite a bit of time should be spent on finding and applying for all the scholarships and grants you are eligible for (more on that in a follow-up post) and you will get so sick of writing about yourself…but the alternative is paying for your own schooling. So suck it up, buster, and get it done.
The other caveat to applying for scholarships and grants is that it takes after you’ve written a dozen essays and lost sleep over the applications, your application could (and likely will) be up against thousands of other applicants similar to you.
The newest (and most shiny) way of funding your education is asking your friends and family to help support you. If you are trying to fund your entire education, this probably will not work, but if you’re looking at a $400 bill for books in your first year, this could be a route to consider. Once you’ve made the decision to go forward with your schooling, you will be shocked to discover how many people are willing to help you. The best way to ensure success with a crowdfund is to publicize often (without being obnoxious about it) and to be truthful (and realistic) with what you’re funding for.
Make sure when you’re looking into different crowdfunding sites that you consider the monetary loss on the back-end. 95% of the crowdfunding websites you hear about most frequently (GoFundMe, KickStarter, etc.) will take a percentage of the donation off the back-end for “website maintenance.” Make sure you do your research entirely before committing to a website so you know what you’re getting yourself (and your donors) into.
Workstudy is a way of obtaining an on-campus job that helps to pay off your student debt while allows you to gain work-experience. Many college campuses offer something of this nature. For most workstudy programs, you must maintain a certain GPA and work a certain amount of hours. On the positive side, most college campuses bookmark a certain amount of jobs specifically for workstudy students. Ask your admissions adviser if that’s something the college offers when you’re looking into universities to apply to.
Job sponsorship is relatively new to the scene. Rather than going in “traditional order,” students who obtain a job sponsorship tend to find a company that wants to employ them and then asks the company to pay towards their college expenses. These are incredibly rare, but if you’re going into a unique field, it is definitely worth looking into. For more information, check out this article.
So you tried all of this and it didn’t pan out? No panicking. If you’re dead-set on attending college, you can always take out a loan. Loans are money that the borrower will have to pay back. (Ex. Your bank gives you $100 of their own money and says “Spend it wisely.” You spend it on your college education, but then you have to pay them back because banks (and the government) don’t particularly like to give out free money.) Loans should be your last resort, after you’ve exhausted ever other option. That said, it’s not the end of the world if a loan is what you’re left with. Make sure you shop around to find who will give you the best interest rate. Consider filling out your FAFSA, a company that has made it easy to ask for money for your education.
Think about it this way. If the choice is between no education, or borrowing money for an education that’ll allow you to get a higher paying job when you’re done, which do you think is the wisest decision?
And that’s that. Do you have any other ways that you used to get money for college? If so, comment below.