Getting into the top choice on your list of colleges or universities is probably one of the hardest things to do, but what happens if when there is not enough money to pay for it. In the past, students counted on some financial support from their families to help offset college costs. Now, families are so cash strapped that they cannot possibly put aside money for college so they say, “We love you. We want you to go to college, but we can’t afford to pay tuition right now. You’re on your own,” according to a U.S News & World Report article, “Should Kids Pay Their Own Tuition Costs,” on MSN.com. That statement resonates the dilemma they face when considering college.
How can students continue to pay for a college education after the first semester? “While education costs continue to rise, students need to look for innovative ways to help pay for their college education,” says article writer Douglas Quinn. There are many ways a student can put a dent in the price tag for education.
First, the student can see if the college or university offers a work-study program. The advantage of a work-study program is that the student can lower their tuition payments by working at departments on campus. The areas where most students work are in laboratories, administrative offices, and residence halls, or sports facilities.
Second, the student might consider trying to secure part-time employment while keeping up with their coursework. The money earned at work can help pay for college expenses. Unfortunately, there is a possible downside to this option for some students who are also paying for other expenses. “Many students spend so much time working to pay rent, utilities, and other basic living costs that they don’t have time to devote to their studies, and end up having to drop out for financial reasons,” adds author Jean Johnson. Scholarships are often overlooked by many students because they believe they need to be a top-notch scholar to ask for financial support.
“CollegeAnswer has the largest online scholarship database containing more than $15 billion in funds,” says Barbara O’Brien of CollegeAnswer.com. Other available sites for students to search out scholarship opportunities include FastWeb, CollegeBoard, Wiredscholar.com, and Scholarship.com. If you come across a particular site that asks you to pay a fee to research programs, do not apply.
In addition to her website, O’Brien recommends that students search for other alternative funding sources. “Students should look to organizations such as the Kiwanis Club, YMCA, parents’ employers, and area businesses,” says O’Brien.
If a student is ambitious enough to compress more classes into longer sessions, this can equate to a cheaper tuition bill. This method is called the “accelerated degree program.” Students elect to take a traditional four-year program but compress the time into three years, which essentially allows the student to obtain a four-year degree, but only pay for three years.
Another way a student may benefit from a lesser tuition payment is if he or she chooses to study at a local college for their basic core classes before transferring to a larger university. Local colleges allow students to take classes at a cheaper cost per credit, and when ready, he or she can transfer to a bigger school without the burden of outrageous student loans.
Some students may land on a search for tuition-free schools, which allow them to enter into colleges like the Webb Institute in Glen Cove, NY, College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, MO, and Alice Lloyd College in Poppa Passes, NY. Many high school guidance counselors suggest students check out what is available from federal and private sources to receive money for college.
Programs like MyRichUncle, offer a lower interest rate on student loans. “Debt should be avoided at all costs,” says Raza Khan of MyRichUncle. “But when you need to borrow, you should shop around for the lowest rate possible.”
Some colleges and universities offer students the ability to set the price of tuition for four years. This means that the student will pay the same tuition cost from freshman to senior year. Some of these colleges include Baylor University in Waco, TX, the University of Charleston, WV, and Pace University in New York. Another option that students should consider when trying to reduce the sting of high tuition costs is volunteering for community based organizations.
Students that choose majors that serve the needs of the underrepresented population get a break in tuition. For example, a teacher can receive up to $5,000 off their federal loan if he or she works in a low-income community. Organizations like the Peace Corps or Volunteers in Service to America offer deferment of payment of student loans or educational funds towards educational expenses.