I have to pay for college… Part One: Student Loans
If you’re like most high school graduates or considering going back to college, the prospect of having to pay for it can be overwhelming if you don’t have a lot of money saved. According to a 2015 survey of 5,000 Americans by marketwatch.com, approximately 62% had only close to $1,000 in savings, and another 20% didn’t even have a savings account. In addition, the average cost of a college education in America today according to collegedata.com for the 2015-2016 academic year is $9,410 for in-state residents attending a public college, $23,893 for out-of-state residents attending a public college, and $32,405 USD. for private colleges. These costs do not include textbooks or living expenses if you will not be living at home or with family who can help support you. Finally, there are supplementary expenses to consider such as computers, lab fees, tutoring, etc. So, the important question is, how does a person pay for all of that?
The answer is not simple. Paying for college usually involves multiple strategies. Assuming you saved nothing for college, the most obvious solution is to complete a FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, with the US Department of Education on their website. By doing this, you will find out if you qualify for student loans and what are the types. This is usually the best option if you have to borrow money to help pay for college, because interest rates are usually lower and repayment terms are more flexible. However, you should only borrow money if you haven’t exhausted all other options in paying for your education, because large student loan debt upon graduation can be stressful. Interest will continue to accrue on your student loan if you wait to start making payments, only adding to the total amount you owe and making it more difficult to pay off the loan. consider any type of loan as if it were in the same emergency category; Don’t borrow money unless you have to!
I have to pay for college… Part Two: Free Money
Have you ever heard the term “nothing is ever free”? Well, “free money” for college like scholarships and grants is basically “free money,” with another form of cost involved. For example, Fund for Thought requires that you complete and submit an application and write an essay in order to be considered for a scholarship. The cost in this example would be the application fee ($20) and the time taken to complete the essay package. The “cost” is low compared to the possibility of receiving $2,000 in “free money” toward college. Scholarships are “free money” because you are not required to pay it back, it is an award for some type of qualification or achievement.
You should apply to as many scholarships and grants as possible. The best places to look are online scholarship databases, your high school guidance counselor, or the financial aid office of the university you’ll be attending. These places usually have extensive lists of current scholarships, and can help you if you have questions about the application. In addition, local civic organizations, churches, and businesses will sponsor scholarships available to students in their area. Check your local newspaper and community ads and you may find “free money” with little competition. The bottom line is that if you take the time to research scholarships and grants, the chances of getting “free money” for college are greater.
Should I Pay for College… Part Three: Finding Scholarships
We wanted to broaden our scholarship search since there are many resources available and it can be a daunting task for the individual scholar. There are several different types of scholarships available, and they can be categorized by different attributes. We thought it would be best to make a list to help give you some ideas and directions as you start your search.
1. Scholarships for high school students
2. University scholarships
3. Masters Scholarships
4. National Scholarships
5. International Scholarships (Canadian Scholarships, Student Exchange Scholarships)
6. Free scholarships
7. Online Scholarships
8. Grant a complete ride
9. Community Service Scholarship
10. Company Sponsored Scholarships (Pepsi Scholarship, Walmart Scholarship, McDonald’s Scholarship)
11.Scholarships for Race/Ethnic Origin (Scholarships for Native Americans, Scholarship Fund for Hispanics)
12. Scholarship Field (Journalism Scholarships, Law School Scholarships)
13. Scholarships in Areas of Need (Teaching Scholarship, Early Intervention Scholarship)
14. Merit-based scholarships based on academic or athletic achievement
This list is by no means exhaustive, but the point is to get you started. Getting free money for college is possible for everyone. By applying to as many scholarships as possible, you will increase your chances of receiving an award.