For those students who choose to go on to college, the big question may be “How do I pay for this?” Sometimes students have had a college fund since birth established by their parents or grandparents and may have worked and added to this fund themselves as soon as they were old enough to do so. For most students, though, this is not their reality. Parents may or may not be able to foot the entire bill or even half of it. Many students bear this responsibility themselves. These students don’t just have a fund set aside to pay for college and must search for another plan.
Fortunately there are many options to help out and many books to help guide students and steer them towards reasonable payment plans or even finding a way to go to college for free.
One of the best known ways to go to college for free is to get grants and/or scholarships. Anyone planning on going to college should be applying for any and all of these types of things as possible. The more applications, the greater chance of finding one that will work.
Grants are often based on a person’s identifiers–such as being a woman, a minority, a Native American, etc. I’ve seen some grants based upon where one lives; for instance Hawaii. If you are unsure of what grants are out there, come in to the Fulton County Public Library and use the Grant Station to look up what’s available.
Scholarships are often based on an ability one has such as academic ability, athleticism, or a talent such as musical ability. The library has books and of course access to the internet to help potential students search for applicable scholarships.
In Indiana, the state has a program called 21st Century Scholars. Students sign up for this program in the 7th grade and must maintain a good GPA as well as stay drug free and out of trouble. In Indiana, this is a really big deal where potential 21st Century Scholars actually have to appear before a judge and take an oath to remain drug free. For those who complete the requirements of the program, they can go to any state college or university. These students usually graduate debt free. Hopefully other states have similar programs, although I have no information about other states.
If for whatever reason a student can’t get scholarships or grants, another excellent option is to enlist in the military and let the government foot the bill for your college degree. This option comes with the added benefit of career options as well as lifelong benefits (for retirees of the armed services), free medical and dental care, and access to veteran organizations once leaving the military. An excellent book about this is Military Education Benefits for College: A Comprehensive Guide for Military Members, Veterans, and Their Dependents by David J. Renza, M.A. and Edmund J. Lizotte (Lt. Col., Ret.).
College students must complete a FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid) which will help determine the amount of free aid a student can qualify for. If you are on your way to college, follow the FAFSA link above to determine if you qualify for free money. If a student doesn’t qualify for free money, the FAFSA also helps determine the amount of student loans a student can qualify for and the linked site will walk you through the process of applying for grants and scholarships. It also provides some great advice on borrowing money if you have to.
Here are a few more books that are helpful in figuring out how to pay for college:
These books contain excellent information. The first one includes sample forms to help walk students through the FAFSA application process. The second book includes expert opinions and advice for finding the best financial packages available to students.
Although it’s much harder to do, there is always the pay as you go method. Some students do work and pay for school at the same time. If you happen to be an adult who’s already been full time in the work force, the pay as you go method is popular, but it’s not the only option. There may still be grants and scholarships you may qualify for. Among other options, your employer may be willing to foot the bill for your college classes especially if you are taking courses related to your current job. The following book will help walk an adult student through various ways to finance a college education.
If you are on your way to college, do you know how you will pay for it? If you’ve already been to college, how did you pay for it?