Below are some quick tips for students who need to find money for college.
Consider community college first
Don’t count out lower-cost community colleges to get you on your way. Community colleges are typically less expensive than traditional universities. Traditional universities also allow course credit transfers more often these days. This will help you remove a large part of the cost of a traditional education.
Catching up if you’re starting late
Saving money is important, whether you’re a first time student or a returning adult. There's still plenty you can do to prepare. You may have lost some time, but don’t give up. Start saving today. Even if it's just a few dollars a month, set up an automatic investment plan with a money market fund or savings account. That way, you keep money safely out of the way before you have a chance to spend it.
Scholarships aren’t just for over-achievers
If you present yourself as a unique student with something to gain from a college education, scholarships are out there for you to find. Look for scholarships from religious groups, professional associations, civic organizations and fraternal groups. Some of these groups don’t even require that you be a member of their organization. Ask the counselors at your high school or at the school you are trying to enter for help in finding these.
Save money on courses by testing out of them
It’s true. If you know the material, you can test past many expensive 100 level freshman courses by demonstrating your knowledge level. There is a small fee to take the exam but you’ll save big dollars on tuition and books. Check with your high school counselor about the availability of college-level courses you can take for free your senior and junior years before paying for them in your first year at a university.
Some schools also offer a different way in through our next tip …
When searching for scholarships, contact:
• Social organizations
Usually, the above types of scholarships are not widely publicized. This means they have fewer applicants, which equals higher odds of winning if you qualify for the competition. Don’t forget to ask your local high school counselor, librarian and college financial aid office for direction. Remember – helping students locate financial aid is part of their job, and they help people like you every day.
Saving time and money with experience
Some colleges will allow you to create a portfolio of your on-the-job and life experiences in lieu of completing coursework. There’s a good chance that you might find your professional and personal experiences translated into course credits to alleviate some costly low-level courses.
Swallow your pride and sell a few things
Is there a chance that you have items in your house that you don’t use or need? Instead of taking a loan, consider selling material assets like electronics, unfavored jewelry or books and music discs. Any of these can help in small ways as you move more money toward your college education.
In general, take risks, ask questions and start networking. Just making a few small steps can bump the doors to a college education open more easily than you might expect.