How Can I Pay For College?

Before you enter college, there is always the haunting question of ‘how can I pay for college?’

Many people don’t go to college until they have enough saved up to allow them to go to school. We all know that college is expensive.

However, there are still many options that students should consider. Below are 3 ways to pay for college.

  • Grants

The reason why many schools place emphasis on filling out the FAFSA early is because it can get you the most government assistance for school. FAFSA is best turned in before March 1st because that is usually the priority date, meaning you get the most assistance when you apply before then.

The FAFSA gathers the information you put in about you and your parent’s income, assets, etc. and determines your expected family contribution (EFC). Then the processor creates a Student Aid Report (SAR), which shows you and your parent’s information and your EFC and sends it to the schools that you listed on your FAFSA. Once the school receives your SAR, they estimate the cost of attendance minus your EFC, which determines how much assistance you need and how much the school can provide for you.

FAFSA can help you get grants such as the Pell grant that can be up to $5,500 a year, which is a lot of money to help pay for college! There may also be specific state grants depending on which state you live in. Look through the financial aid website of the school you are interested in and see what grants they offer. You can save a lot of money just by filling out the FAFSA. Free money, who wouldn’t like that?

  • Work Study & Part-Time Jobs

Not only will the government give you monetary help, they will also give you priority over others for campus jobs. Work-study can be one of the forms of assistance that the FAFSA gives you. Rather than giving the money to you when the semester starts, the work-study program will help give you a job to earn that money to pay for school. To learn more about work-study programs, click here.

I believe this is a great learning and growing opportunity for students. It allows them to work for their education as well as develop work ethic. This will help when they graduate by giving them experience in the work force. In addition, when entering college, you should also look for a job on campus or around campus regardless if you have work study or not. It will benefit you during college and after. To learn more about how to make money during college, click here.

  • Scholarships

In order to get scholarships, students must work really hard during high school. They must get a high grade point average (GPA) as well as have a lot of extracurricular and volunteer activities. There are various different categories of scholarships, but the most common are academic scholarships and private scholarships.

Academic scholarships are scholarships that are given to a student when they apply to a school because of their outstanding GPA, extracurricular activities, volunteer hours, etc. This is one of the reasons why high schools emphasize getting good grades, high standardized test scores, and participating in activities outside of school.

Private scholarships are scholarships provided from other outside organizations. For these scholarships, you have to fill out an application and typically write an essay. There are very few private scholarships that only allow you to print out an application. Applying for scholarships can be time consuming, but it will definitely be worth it once you receive that cash for the amount you won! To learn more about scholarships, click here.

  • Student Loans

I believe loans would be the last resort when looking for ways to pay for college. If this is the only option for you and you are smart about your money, go for it. However, if you’re not smart with your money, you better start changing your habits. There are two categories of loans: federal loans and private loans.

Federal loans are determined by your FAFSA. The school decides what loans to give you if you still need money outside of your EFC, grants and scholarships. Federal loans can either be subsidized or unsubsidized. Subsidized loans do no accrue interest before you graduate while unsubsidized loans do. Private loans are not backed by the government; you’ll have to apply for these loans separately. Most of the time you would need a co-signer in order to get the loan, or you must have really good credit. To learn more about student loans, click here.

These are the three ways I know that people (as well as myself) have paid for college and the many options people have. Do well in high school, and it might just make it easier for you to afford college!

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Hanan is a senior at Western Michigan University majoring in communication studies and minoring in advertising and promotion. On a normal day, Hanan can be found working as an assistant manager at her school's student recreation center, hanging out with friends, writing, or sleeping (which is her favorite activity). When she has free time during the weekends, she loves to stay in and watch Adventure Time (her favorite TV show).