By now, it is not a secret: college is expensive. Whether you are a high school senior, already in college, or thinking about heading back to school, there are ways to save. Here is our list of tricks and tips to get the most out of college for as little as possible:

Free Money: It does exist and it exists in many forms.

  • Grant Money- Money from the federal government, issued on a need-based, first-come, first serve basis.
    • Federal Pell Grant- awarded to students pursuing their first bachelor’s degree. These grants are normally awarded to students with a family income under $50,000.
    • Federal Supplement Educational Opportunity Grant- this grant is available for students with extreme financial need and does not already hold a bachelor’s degree.
    • Academic Competitiveness Grant- is for first year college students who completed high school after January 1, 2006 and second year students who completed high school after January 1, 2005. Students must have at least a 3.0, with a rigorous course load, and be eligible to receive a Pell grant.
    • National SMART grant- (The National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent) Is available for third and fourth year student with a 3.0 GPA in physical, life, or computer science, math, technology, and engineering. Students must also be eligible for a Pell Grant.
  • Scholarships and Fellowships- Approximately, one million scholarships are awarded each year. Athletic, academic, disability, race, nationality, religious affiliation, location, and many more. Do your research; you would be surprised what you can get scholarships for! I spent five minutes searching for scholarships; to my surprise I could find scholarships for being left handed, being able to call a duck, wearing duck tape to the prom, pursuing parapsychology etc. If you can think of it, you very well may be able to find a scholarship for it! Use your computer smarts, you be surprised what you can come up with.

 Student Loans: You pay back this money with low interest rates.

  • Stafford Loans- can be provided through the federal government or private lenders. The interest rate for these loans is currently 6.8%. They may be subsidized (meaning the government will pick up the interest while you are in school) or unsubsidized (which means the interest is your responsibility).
  • Federal Plus Loans (Federal Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students)- This is a loan for your parents. If you don’t receive enough in financial aid, a loan through your parents can pick up the difference.
  • Perkins Loans- For students who demonstrate extreme financial need. These loans come with very low interest rates.

 **Hint: If you don’t qualify for any of these loans consider checking out private lenders.** 

ETC…Grant, scholarship, and loan money are not the only way to pay for school. There are other ways. Here are some ideas:

  1. Work-study. When filling out your FAFSA, check that you would like to be considered for work study programs. These on-campus jobs are available to help undergraduate and graduate students cover the cost of schooling.
  2. Employee Assistance. If you have a job, check with your employer. They may offer partial or even full tuition advancement or reimbursement. Not employed? Check with mom and dad’s work. They may extend tuition assistance to dependents of their employees. A lot of employers that offer this only require a few things: good grades, proof of enrollment, and sticking with the employer. If you find a new job depending on the time frame, you may be required to pay the money back.
  3. On campus jobs. Work at the library, be a security escort, a parking attendant, or an assistant to professor. Check out your options. Even if you don’t find a job freshman year, you will know exactly were to look next year.
  4. Paid internships. They may be tough to come across but if you can find one in your field, go for it! It is not only money, but a great experience and resume builder. Even if it’s not paid, you may still want to consider it.
  5. Sell your tickets to a school sporting event. If your school is known for it’s sports and has a big game coming up, your ticket might just be a hot commodity.
  6. Be a tutor. If you are a great writer, a whiz with numbers, or awesome in anatomy, there are students on campus who need your help!
  7. Off campus jobs. Living in a college town (or even if you are not), many employers are used to having student workers and will work with your schedule.
  8. Research studies. Departments, like your school’s psychology department will pay you to take part in studies. You can make money for doing something as simple as answering questions.
  9. Sell your textbooks. Once the semester is over, sell your books, and save the money to pay for next semester’s books!

Categories: Financial Aid | Grants | Scholarships | Student Loans | Work Study
Tags: academic competitiveness grant federal parent loan for undergraduate students federal pell grant federal supplement educational opportunity grant work study

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