Creative Funding For College Expenses
College is one of the biggest expenses that most young people face. Figuring out a way to cover tuition, room and board, books, fees, and other expenses is a daunting task for a 17-or-18-year-old. School counselors are often overwhelmed with hundreds of similar situations, so many students are left to their own devices when it comes to paying for college.
While college seems to get more expensive every day, the good news is that there are always new opportunities emerging to help students pay for it. The main thing is to investigate and really dig for those unique options that can help you out a lot.
Let’s look at some common ways and some not-so-common ways to overcome the financial hurdle of college.
Speaking of hurdles, sports are a good option for funding college. While this one may seem unattainable to most people, there are more athletic scholarships out there than you might think. Not everyone will have their signing ceremony carried out on national TV, but plenty of young people in a wide variety of sports are able to conduct their own recruitment efforts and get signed to any of hundreds of colleges to fund their education with sports.
Of course, there are a number of regulations you need to understand to ensure that you don’t lose your eligibility over something that seems simple. But if you can keep those things in line, qualify academically, and perform well in your chosen pursuit, you can get some or all of your college covered.
Not everyone can punt, pass, and kick their way to a diploma, so many people count on scholarships to take care of college. Many of them fall into the trap of believing that they can’t get scholarships without a 4.0, a sky-high ACT score, and a multi-page listing of extracurricular activities.
Don’t believe it! While the high-profile scholarships at universities do have stringent requirements like these, others have a different approach. Many of them are funded by groups with a very particular interest, and they want to reward students who share that interest. Consequently, there are a lot of unique scholarships out there that you just might be able to get.
Of course, you’ll still need grades good enough to suggest you’ll succeed in college, but there’s no need to be a straight-A overachiever to get a scholarship.
Loans & Grants
These two forms of financial assistance are often thought of together, but they are very different. Loans must be repaid; grants are essentially given free and clear. It’s usually fairly easy to be approved for a significant amount of loan funding, but the issue is in paying it back. The news is full of stories about people who borrowed more than they should have for college and struggle to pay it back after they graduate.
So a good idea is to check on grants first. The qualifications vary, but financial need typically figures very heavily in the process. Start the process by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as FAFSA, to establish your level of need.
If you do choose to utilize loans, investigate forgiveness programs that may cover some of them if you work in a particular location, or if you work in a particular profession for a certain length of time.
A college degree typically pays for itself. Most students understand that, but their understanding still doesn’t create any money to pay for that college up front. As high school graduation approaches, their anxiety rises as they wonder who’s going to cover the cost of their education. That anxiety can be addressed with a creative, persistent, and determined approach to looking for college funding.
The students who stay at the process most aggressively are the ones who have the most success. If you keep that in mind, you’ll find a way to fund your education.
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