Four Ways to Pay for College

It’s no secret that going to college is a big investment. With that being said, it is important to start planning earlier than later how you are going to be able to finance your college education.

There are many ways to go about funding your tuition and housing, but first and foremost it is a good idea to consider how much you are realistically able to spend. Prices can vary and depend on many different conditions for example, in or out of state tuition, whether it is a private or public university and whether you commute or live on campus.

To put this in perspective, I’ll compare prices of a few of the schools I was considering when I was going through the decision process. These include rough estimates for the costs of tuition, housing, and books.

  • Community college: College of DuPage $9570 annually
  • Public university, in-state: University of Illinois $25,000 annually
  • Private university, in-state: Bradley University $35,000 annually
  • Out of state: Miami University in Ohio $28,000 annually

All these colleges are valid choices for your first year, but as you can see, there is a big price range depending on the different factors. Once you establish how much you can spend, it’s time to consider your different payment options.

Financial Aid

Financial Aid is usually, but not always, based on financial need. Financial aide can come from both the college itself or FAFSA which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Any incoming or current student can go on their website and apply.

According to the website “Federal Student Aid is responsible for managing the student financial assistance programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965. These programs provide grants, loans, and work-study funds to students attending college or career school.”

On the FASFA application, you enter your demographics, your combined income in your household and some additional information, and they send you a report saying what you qualify for.

Many universities also have their own website about financial aid from the specific school. It usually requires a separate application so you should plan ahead and look online for that.


Taking a loan from the bank to pay for school is always an option. One thing to consider about this option, is like for every loan, you will have to pay interest.

It is possible to get a loan in addition to having financial aid and scholarships, so it is something to look into if you are having trouble making ends meet.


Scholarships and financial aid are similar, but they have their differences as well. Universities usually give scholarships for academic success, program of study and sports. Normally, you have to apply for the specific scholarship you want to receive, but sometimes the school will merely offer them to you after reviewing your application.

There are also a lot of possibilities to get outside scholarships as well. is a resource that connects students to scholarships that are personalized towards the individual. You can find a scholarship for almost everything and it is important to apply for them all, because you never know if you will get them until you try.

Some scholarships are renewable, so you will be able to receive it more than once, but normally you have to reapply. Another thing that is important to remember is that most scholarships have deadlines, so you have to keep on top of them so that $1000 doesn’t go down the drain just because you submitted your information a day late.

Work Study

This a program that some universities have that allows you to work a university job, and have a portion of your paycheck go towards paying your tuition.

This process is different for every school, so check into the rules and regulations at your specific university once you are admitted.

Going to college is a financial investment that should be taken seriously. There are many ways to make college affordable for everyone, so always consider all options when it comes to paying for school. 

Related Posts

The following two tabs change content below.
Shannon Kelly

Shannon Kelly

Shannon Kelly is a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studying journalism. She is involved with the student newspaper, new student programing, and greek life on campus. She has a passion for travel, loves animals, and is always up for an adventure. Shannon also enjoys movies, music and fashion.