Paying for School: What Are My Options as a Student?

Image by Tax Credits, Flickr

Image by Tax Credits, Flickr

College represents the conscious decision to take education further than is required by the government. It gives students the ability to learn more than just the basics, which in turn allows them to forge ahead on their chosen career paths.

The problem is that the cost of college has been rising steadily. CNBC reported that the average cost of college has risen by 300 percent since 1971.

The most troubling fact is that cost continues to climb.

Let’s explore some of the options that students have for paying their way through college. These include common strategies and a few creative answers.

1. Federal and State Assistance

FASFA offers federal financial assistance with regards to the cost of college tuition. States tend to offer similar financial aid for specific groups of students.

While this seldom pays for the full cost of college, it can dramatically lessen the financial burden that higher education can place on a student.

The downside is that this assistance tends to be limited to undergraduate students. Graduates will need to use a different method of financing to pay for their education.

2. Grants and Scholarships

Grants and scholarships represent another well-known way to help a student finance their way through college. These are typically awarded on an as-needed basis or as a reward for academic or charitable achievements.

The major problem with this source of funding is that generally only a few students receive it, which in turn means a certain amount of competition is vying for funding.

The other drawback of this method of financing is that it tends to be limited. Seldom are these forms of funding enough to pay for tuition fees, and even more rarely do they pay for other necessities like books and lodging.

3. Student Loans

Student loans have become a necessary evil in the world of education. They are notorious for putting students into an overwhelming amount of debt before they even have their first professional job secured.

One trick to minimizing the impact student loans have on your life during and after college is to minimize costs as much as possible. Certain low-interest loans exist that make it possible to pay 2 percent or less on interest during school, and between 3 to 7 percent after graduating.

4. Cost-Effective Alternatives

Another viable strategy for funding yourself through college is to seek a more cost-effective approach to education. Some courses, such as online engineering programs from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, allow for a more cost-effective approach to education.

Tuition for these programs tends to cost less than similar programs due to the lack of physical presence required by instructors, and the automated coursework. While more cost-effective, they are just as robust as a traditional college education.

Finding the Money for a College Education

College is one of the most expensive investments. It can cost more than a home, but it can also provide for your entire future.

By following the funding strategies listed above, you will help make college into something that you can afford, regardless of the field you choose.

This article was contributed by guest author Anica Oaks.

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