The cost of college education has been going up, but it does not have to keep you from getting the education you need. Even though the number of grants and college scholarships has diminished, there still are a number of ways that you can reduce the cost of education yourself.
Get All the College Scholarships That You Can
When you begin thinking about how you will be paying for college, you want to start with trying to get all the free money that you can. This will enable you to keep the expenses low and you will not have to pay the money back later.
Many college scholarships and grants (Pell) are available, and you may have to do considerable research to find some that are applicable. You will also need to start early, send in your applications on time, and apply each year to some of them. SmartMoney says that scholarships may come from your hometown, a local college, or even from your workplace.
Apply for Financial Aid Where Possible
There are many sources where you can get financial aid, and some sources may even be zero interest. If you are a promising student, you may even have a relative who may be willing to loan you the money (or give it) at low or zero percent interest – you will never know unless you ask!
The most popular source, of course, is to get a financial aid loan from the government. These loans, called Stafford Loans, will have the lowest interest on the market, and they will also give you the best repayment terms, too. Forbes says that you will need to start by filling out the FAFSA for the government, and you may also have to fill out a CSS/Profile – which is institution specific.
Shop Around for Best College Costs
As you consider which college you want to go to, you need to think about where you might be able to get the most awards and scholarships. Getting enough of these at a particular college, even if it is an expensive one, may make more sense than going to a less expensive one – but with fewer financial incentives. BigFuture says that most colleges have net price calculators on their websites, which are now required by the government, and will help you calculate how much you will actually need to come up with apart from grants and scholarships.
Get on a College Work Scholarship Program
A lot of colleges have work scholarship programs available for some students. While it often will not pay for the full price of your education each semester, it can make it much more affordable – plus give you some work experience, too. You will need to apply early to get onboard, because other students will apply for it, too.
Take a Year or Two in a Community College
Instead of going to a pricey private college, you can go to a community college for a couple of years and save a lot of money on college expenses. You can also work at the same time to save up money for the college of your choice. This will help you save thousands of dollars in the cost of your education, and you can also take the number of courses you can afford. Another option is to get your college education through online courses, which may even allow you to complete the courses at your leisure and gives you the convenience of working on them when you are able.
Taking out private student loans should always be your last consideration when looking for ways to trim college costs. These have the highest interest rates and also require a faster payback time.