8 Creative Ways to Pay for College

Mar 11, 2019 by

The average college student loan debt is over $37,000. That means that following graduation, students better land a job that pays well if they plan on ever getting ahead of the game. But what if there was a way to pay for college without going into debt or taking out loans? Think it’s impossible. Think again. Check out 10 creative and unconventional ways to collect funds for college so you can avoid crippling debt.

1. Grant Money

Even though students are the ones applying to colleges, in many ways, the balls in their court. That’s because colleges and universities want you to enroll there. Especially if you excel academically or athletically. It makes them look good to have quality students at their facility. And for this reason, most colleges offer grant money for simply enrolling. Some universities don’t tell you what grant money is available so students need to know who and when to ask. Private schools are known to offer more money than public establishments due to the fact that private schools charge a lot more for attendance and can afford to gift more money. Outside of grants provided directly by the school, students can search additional grant opportunities through FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

2. Score a Scholarship

Scholarships are as little different than grants because they’re more specialized. Students have to work hard to receive scholarship money, but when they do, it’s worth it. In some situations, a student can receive what’s called a full-ride, which means that the university completely pays for their tuition. This generally happens when a student is exceptional in either academics or athletics. Once again, having extremely successful students attend a college or university attracts future, qualified candidates. There are also smaller scholarships available. Students should be prepared to write an essay or letter along with whatever else the application process requires.

3. Get a Work-Study Job

This is a classic way to barter for your tuition. Many colleges and universities offer work-study jobs for students. This is where a student works on campus and in lieu of pay, their earnings go towards paying off tuition. Work might include washing dishes or serving food in the cafeteria, helping file papers in the administrator’s office, or helping with dorm life. Many work study programs apply the student’s earnings directly to their tuition. This is the best case scenario for students who struggle to manage their money. Others pay the student who is then responsible for paying their tuition fees.

4. Stay Local

Regardless of the degree a student goes for, most majors require the same basic credits to start. These general education credits include basic writing, math, history, and science. This is the foundation of any student’s college career. For students undecided about their major or looking to save money, taking these courses either online or at a local community college is a viable option. Most community colleges or online schools offer credits that easily transfer to four-year universities when the time comes. This website explains more about saving money this way.

5. Employer Reimbursement Programs

Depending on where a student is in their educational journey, some employers offer reimbursement programs for employees. If you’re working at a facility that requires specific education or training, your employer may actually pay for you to receive your education. This i especially true if the company is invested in you. It’s in their best interest to educate you properly. This means you’ll perform your job better and in turn, feel invested in your job. But employer reimbursement isn’t just for job-specific training or education. Some companies like Starbucks, Chipotle, IBM, and Chrysler actually offer student employees half their college tuition, even if they only work part-time! This is an amazing opportunity that not enough students take advantage of.

6. Participate in Clinical Studies

If you’re not afraid to be a ginnie pig, you can get paid to participate in clinical studies. Things like sleeps studies and medical trials actually pay participants for their time and the research opportunities. Students can find these studies listed online or even through the college’s psychology department. Pay ranges from $200 to well over $500. Students may also be interested in selling things to make money. Believe it or not, selling blood, plasma, and even sperm or egg donations can bring in several thousand dollars for willing students. Just be sure to consider all the risks and consequences associated with donating.

7. Freelance

According to a recent report by Forbes, if the freelance trend continues, 50% of the workforce will be working freelance be 2027. This is a great way for college students to earn extra money before and during their college years. Freelancing comes in various forms from writing and photography to web design, and tutoring. Students can make their own schedule, negotiate their rates, and do it all while attending classes and completing their own coursework. This is a great way for students to learn time management skills as well. Job posting sites like Monster and Indeed are great places to start when seeking freelance work.

8. Increase Your Course Load

Students who can academically handle it should take as many classes as they can each semester. This could lead to early graduation and a reduction in tuition costs. The average student takes between 12 and 15 credits per semester. This equates to four for five 3-credit courses. Ambitious students may take as many as six classes per semester, allowing them to accumulate 18 credits. Some colleges and universities require students to attend full-time if they want to qualify for grant and scholarship money. Tuition is often based on full-time status as well. Anything below 3 courses is considered part-time. Taking part-time classes may save you money now but will cost you more in the end. That’s because regardless of how long it takes you to finish your degree, the required number of credits per major won’t change. However, if you’re being charged full-time status and are only taking 3 or 4 classes, it’s in your best interest to add more to your workload if possible. This way, you’ll get the most out of each semester.

Attending college isn’t getting any cheaper. Students need to start getting creative and doing their research to help save money on tuition. A combination of any of these suggestions and others could reduce the cost of obtaining a degree and put students on a better financial path following graduation.

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