Student loans in America add up to a grand total of nearly $1.5 trillion in debt every single year. They’re financially crippling students after graduation, including people who land a job directly out of college. But you can avoid becoming a statistic and even being a part of the student loan crisis altogether with the information in this post. Why not dig in deep and get informed?
There’s no shortage of alternatives to pay for your college degree if you look hard enough. Grants and scholarships are excellent sources of aid. Part-time work at your college or other entities can provide amazing benefits, too. Check out these useful tips to pay your way through college and stay debt-free.
Apply for Grants and Scholarships
Private organizations, colleges, state programs, and the federal government all want to see you succeed, so they offer grants or scholarships. You’re all but promised at least some college funding by applying to a handful of the thousands of them out there. A few of them are substantial enough to entirely pay for your education if you’re lucky or talented enough to land one.
The prerequisites for each grant or scholarship vary widely, but most require that you fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You don’t need to accept any federal loans when you fill out the FAFSA, so completing it should be at the top of your priorities. The Federal Pell Grant, which offers around $6,000 per year, is one of the many grants that require a FAFSA application.
Haggle with Your College
Colleges offer their own grants and scholarships, so ask your guidance counselor about them. It’s possible to haggle over the amount of financial aid you receive if you write a formal request and call them afterward. Focus on what value you’ll bring to the college and why you’re a natural fit with them instead of drawing comparisons with other universities.
Claim Tax Credits
The American Opportunity Tax Credit lets you claim tax credits against money invested into your education. You can receive a tax break of up to $2,500 when you pay for any fees related to college. Tuition, books and rent are all covered by the program, so ensure that you’re applying this tax credit the next time you file your taxes.
Go to Community College First
Your first two years in any college or university are filled with entry-level classes and prerequisites for more advanced courses. Community colleges offer the same introductory courses as a four-year university for a much lower price. The credits for these entry-level classes will transfer to the university of your choosing if you pick the right community college to attend.
Living on campus is part of the “full college experience;” this means it’s fun and also foolishly expensive! Most students attending community colleges live at home and commute to school. You can save nearly $10,000 a year on rent alone by commuting to college.
Apply for Work-Study Jobs
Working a part-time job at your college to pay for some of your tuition and supplies is also a great option. These jobs are open depending on availability and your college’s resources. You’ll earn at least minimum wage and you don’t need to exclusively spend your earnings on college-related expenses.
Part-time Jobs and Employer Reimbursement
You may not land a work-study job, but you can still get a part-time job and a traditional employer. Working a few odd jobs through services like QuadJobs, TaskRabbit, and WayUp is also a viable alternative. Check in with your guidance counselor for any job openings for initiates in your field of interest.
Some employers will pay for part or all of your tuition. Starbucks will pay for some of your first two years while you work at least 20 hours a week with them. Then, they’ll pay for your final two years in full.
Walmart provides financial aid to employees or their dependents. They may also pay for your education in business or supply chain management, on campus or online, at select colleges. Check with your employer for any educational benefits they can provide for you.
There are plenty of ways to save money and pay off your tuition without resorting to loans. Think outside the box and be unorthodox in your approach to education to cut down on unnecessary costs. You’ll walk out the other side with a degree, debt-free, and ready to pursue your dream job.