How to Pay for College?

[5 min read] Curious about how to Pay for College? Read this Qilo News article to find out the most effective ways of Paying for College!

How to Pay for College?
Pay for College Image throwing Graduation Caps in Air

One of the largest expenses many of us will face in our early lives outside of purchasing a home or a car is paying for higher education.


College is not cheap, and the loans associated with it are even less so.


In fact, paying for college without either substantial savings, income, or loans is nearly impossible but it isn’t beyond the reach of everyone.


With some dedication, planning, and persistence, students can help pay their way through college using a minimum of either borrowed money or scholarships.


How can you do this?


Read on for our tips on how to pay for college.


  1. Grants


Probably one of the easiest and most rewarding ways to get money together to pay for college is to find related grants. This is a pretty student-specific situation but there’s basically a grant out there for everything you can imagine. In fact, many colleges and libraries keep annually updated publications that list every grant for every possible need out there.


If you think you might qualify for a couple of grants, try searching the Internet or consult with a college admissions counselor. They’ll know where to point you.


  1. Ask the College for More Money


We’re not suggesting you haggle over the tuition but we do know that you can work with many schools to get costs down at least somewhat. Especially in tough economic times, schools know that students are under unique financial pressures. Also, they want to make sure to keep classes full and enrollment high. It never hurts to ask and, typically, there’s some kind of help your institution can give you.


  1. Work-Study Placements


One of the most common ways for students to cut back on the costs of education is to find a work-study placement, preferably one related to the area of study a student is pursuing. Even those not related to your area of study but that help defray the overall cost is a good thing. Something to keep in mind about work-study placements is that they tend to be competitive and schools can be limited in how many they offer.


Beyond working on campus or for the school, however, your school probably has connections with local businesses for placement within the community itself. These could take the form of a paid internship or even a trial period for a real job.


  1. Make Use of Tax Credits


Federal and state tax laws often give breaks to people who are pursuing education whether as an undergraduate or beyond. Even job improvement courses and professional development can count in this category. Though they won’t cover the entire cost of an education, they do give students a pretty substantial discount when it comes tax time. At its simplest level, tax credits for education are meant to help you continue your educational path in the coming year.


  1. Live Off-Campus


This is another situational aspect of the process but, if you can, try to make sure your living expenses are as cheap as possible. This often involves either living on-campus if you want to stay local or commuting by living off-campus if that doesn’t matter to you. Often rent prices around colleges and schools are very high because landlords know that students value this level of convenience.


That’s why driving outside of town limits could not only save you money over the long haul but also a substantial sum. Again, this is a weighted decision and often involves making sure there are no on-campus options that are cheaper for you. Also, if you’re an undergraduate, you might not want to discount the value of the connections and memories you might make by being closer to the campus and its events.


  1. Private/Public Scholarships


A hugely popular way to pay for school and one that is often underused according to many higher-ed statistics, private and public scholarships are, in essence, a type of “free money” that knocks off chunks of the amount you will have to pay to complete your courses. Best of all is that these scholarships can often be used for tuition or living expenses.


  1. Enroll in Community College to Save Money


Community colleges, especially if you plan on staying within a state-run school system, are the single most powerful cost-savings tool in your arsenal as a student. Naturally, this depends on what you are trying to achieve. This might be advice better geared towards undergraduate students but even graduates could benefit if the credits transfer for certain required courses that they didn’t get in undergrad.


The major challenge here is making sure your credits transfer and this involves a lot more paperwork and bureaucratic maneuvering than many people are comfortable with or even capable of doing. Again, don’t hesitate to get help from the school itself. That’s what their employees are there for at the end of the day. Also, it might help you make your final decisions if you note that your school of choice just can’t seem to get back to you on anything. If you expect the situation to be any different when you are a student we would advise that you often get a preview of what your experience will be like at this stage of the game.


  1. College Savings Plans Prior to College


We know what you might be thinking about this advice: Wish I had known that sooner! Don’t worry, college savings plans aren’t the only funding mechanism for a higher education. We just suggested that to get you thinking about the future - especially if you’re reading this for someone else! What other ways are there in terms of financial instruments? Many traditional and Roth IRAs allow you to take distributions early, without penalty, if the money is used towards educational purposes.


  1. Gig Jobs


Outside of the school work-study program or even local jobs are gig economy jobs. Think UBER, Lyft, or even other online jobs such as tutoring. Not only are these growing in popularity thanks to their flexibility but also they can provide students with a substantial side income. The best part of all is that this income can be carried over after your education as well. There’s no reason to stop making money and there’s no better time than now to get started.


  1. Loans


We haven’t saved the best for last but we have saved the most important discussion for last. You see, there’s a lot of talk out there about student loans and most of it is negative.


Whether it is the interest rates charged or the overall structure of the system, many people, rightly, have problems with taking out loans for an education. That’s why we advise that student loans should be part of a package of solutions, not the only solution to the problem.


You want to avoid taking out a loan as much as possible but, sometimes, this just can’t happen. In those situations, you should not avoid school or unnecessarily lengthen your program of study to avoid student loans.


What you need to do is a little bit of math and consideration. Look at this as an opportunity to really look at your situation and what you are doing.


Is your program promising you a job at the end of it or is that something less guaranteed?


When you look at how much your program costs compared to how much you could potentially make in related jobs, does the math make sense?


For example, if you are borrowing $200,000 to become a social worker that starts out at $35,000, is that a wise investment?


Or is there a way you can get that somewhat cheaper?


We would never tell you to deny what you want to do in favor of money, but we also would never tell you to sign the dotted line no matter what. Often people don’t look at the full picture when it comes to college costs and this can really have painful consequences years down the road.


One powerful aspect of loans that is often overlooked are those that offer forgiveness for public service and the like. There are even companies that will repay your student loans if you agree to certain terms during your employment. Knowing that you have this in your back pocket is very powerful as someone looking for a way to get ahead without breaking the bank. Again, however, you want to do the math.


Many people tout that certain loans “expire” after continuous payment or a certain period of time has passed. Yes, this is true, but often you have repaid the initial loans well before that point is reached.


In other words, they’re forgiving accrued interest and money that was tacked on later. That’s money that you didn’t borrow and never spent but simply money they’ve earned by having you as a borrower for so long. Sometimes this amount alone is enough to motivate people to search for other ways to pay for school or for an accelerated repayment schedule once they are finished.