Funding For College

Are you stressed because you don’t know how you’re going to find the appropriate funding for college?  Most students’ number one concern about college is affordability.

There’s no doubt about it, college can be very expensive.  It’s true that college costs are increasing at twice the rate of inflation.  This is leaving many families all over the world questioning how they are going to find funding for college.

The good news is that college is affordable for just about everyone.  The challenge lies in finding a college that best fits your financial needs.  In this article we’ll discuss college funding do’s and don’ts and what to do if you just can’t find the funding for college that you need.

Funding For College

  • The Do’s…
  • Start Saving Early

It’s far less painful to stash away smaller amounts of money over a longer period of time then to have to locate funding for college all at once.  You don’t necessarily have to stock away the entire cost of college or have it all in the bank on the first day of enrollment.  Some experts say that it’s a good idea to have at least half the cost upfront, but don’t sweat it if you don’t have all the funding for college right away.

  • Get a job

Don’t underestimate the merits of your job at the local grocery store; it can add to the funding for college that you need.  Maybe you won’t be able to fund your entire college career by bagging groceries, but you will be able to pay for some of your books and buy some of the personal items that you’ll need to take with you if you live on campus.  You’d be surprised how much the little amounts add up.  Before you know it, you’ll have a stash of cash!

  • Apply for Scholarships

Use a free scholarship search engine to locate funding for college.  A scholarship search company collects information on hundreds of awards and compares your characteristics with scholarship restrictions.  Based on your answers to a questionnaire, you will receive a list of possible scholarships.

Below are a few free scholarship search engines:

  • FastWeb
  • SallieMae
  • College Board
  • Consider College Payment Plans

Having trouble getting funding for college? Ever considered college payment plans?

After you’ve selected a college, you’ll receive a student bill that lists your costs.  You don’t have to pay all of it at once; you can spread out your payments.

The college will usually have various payment options.  Choose the one that best fits your needs if you weren’t lucky enough to get all of the Federal funding for college that you were hoping for.  Some colleges offer financing plans, such as prepayment of four years’ tuition or paying on a monthly basis.  Monthly plans usually give you the most time to pay.

  • Consider Community College

Can’t gather the additional funding for college, consider community college. You can save on costs if you consider attending a community college for two years and then transferring to a four-year college for your remaining two years.

  • The Don’ts…
  • Don’t Use Credit Cards

Even if you’re having a hard time getting funding for college, you should NEVER use a credit card to pay your tuition.  This debt is more expensive than ever, given the recent changes to interest rates and other fees that many card issuers are now charging.  You also want to be sure you avoid maxing out on your borrowing limit, just in case you need to use the card to pay for an unexpected emergency.

  • Don’t Accept Private Loans

If you have to borrow, pursue federal funding for college first and avoid taking on private loans at all costs!  Unlike federal loans, whose interest rates are capped by law, these loans carry variable rates that can reach up to 20 percent, like credit cards.

Still Don’t Have Enough Funding For College?

Don’t panic.  Nearly half of US students receive some sort of financial aid or funding for college.  In fact, more than $168 billion dollars of student financial aid is available.  Most students receive some form of aid. Less of this aid now comes in the form of grants, however; most aid is awarded through low-interest loans or institutional and other grants.

Take the time to find the college that’s right for you.  Sit down with your parents and carefully review the financing packages offered by each college to determine which makes the most financial sense.

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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