5 Ways to Make College More Affordable Overall

Thursday, October 27, 2016, AM | Leave Comment

When you think about a stereotypical college student, nothing quite hits the mark like the “broke college kid” stereotype. Why is this the case? Well, most college students are too busy with partying on the weekends (plus Tuesday and Thursday) to make money on the side with school.

On top of all this, a college education is starting to become one of the most expensive investments ever as tuition rises along with the overall cost of attendance.

When you factor all of that in, it is easy to see how college students earned their number one stereotype.

Why not rely on student loans? Taking on student loans throughout college can work, but they are not free.

Often times students find themselves getting slammed with accumulating interest throughout school which has a lasting post-graduation impact. With that being said, every college student is not doomed to be in the financial dumps throughout and after their college career.

There are plenty of ways to limit the cost of your college tuition, fees, and expenses.

Here are several tips and advice on how to afford college, both tuition and the hidden expenses.

  1. Work a Part-time Job

    Working during school is the number one way to pay for hidden expenses and to tackle student loan interest early.

    Finding a part-time job is fairly easy around a college campus since there are plenty of stores who rely on the campus population for business. If you cannot find a job off-campus, then the next best place to look is on-campus since universities generally provide part-time opportunities to their student bodies.

    A consistent income is the best way to cover expenses such as rent, groceries, and textbooks which all add to the overall cost of attendance.

    On top of this, part-time student workers can start paying off interest each month which greatly limits the overall expense over the life of a loan.

  2. Apply for Federal Grants

    Federal grants are a form of free financial aid that are awarded by the government after filling out the FAFSA application.

    In order to qualify, applicants must meet certain criteria involving financial need, military service, or major.

    These are valuable because they do not need to be paid back at all which explains their nickname, “free money.”

    Pell Grants are available to undergraduate students with financial need. The exact amount will be based on your expected family contribution (EFC) which is determined when you complete the FAFSA application.

    The lower your EFC, the higher your Pell Grant award will be. You may qualify for a grant if you were at least a part-time student or under age 24 at the time of your parent or guardian’s death during military service.

    In order to be eligible, your EFC must exceed that required for the Pell Grant. Be sure to apply for both on your FAFSA. You can qualify for up to $4,000 per year through the TEACH Grant program.

    To qualify, you’ll need to be an education major with plans to teach in a high-need field at a low-income school.

    Alternately, you can work with an agency that provides educational services in high-need, low-income areas.

  3. Find Scholarships

    Many aspiring college students overlook scholarships or assume that filling out a FAFSA will get them everything they qualify for. This is far from the truth, and more people need to understand this.

    Scholarships are some of the most available and attainable financial aid tools in the industry. To get the best and most scholarships, you’ll have to do some legwork…

    There are thousands of different scholarships awarded for merit, financial need, background and history, extra-curricular activities, or even physical characteristics.

    Using online resources is a great way to get the full picture of all the opportunities out there. If you can think of a reason for a scholarship, then there is a good chance you can find it online.

    One of the best strategies for winning scholarships is to apply to as many as possible, but you need to make sure that you pay attention to eligibility requirements so you don’t waste any time.

    A high volume of applications to viable scholarships is the best way to ensure multiple awards. To put this simply, it is possible to cover all of tuition with various scholarships which makes them one of the most powerful financial aid tools.

  4. Capitalize on Student Discounts

    Local and national retailers offer a variety of student discounts that can help you lower your cost of living during college. Your student ID is essentially a free discount card at many different big business chains.

    You’ll be able to save hundreds of dollars on food, personal items, supplies, transportation, and entertainment over the span of four years.

    On top of this, many college areas offer free public transportation to students with a student ID. If you’re new to the area, take your student ID and ask around for student discounts.

  5. Live Off-Campus

    Campus housing expenses can add up to nearly half of your college attendance costs over four years. You can reduce this by living off-campus in a rental or nearby friend’s house.

    If you attend school close to home, you may want to live at home and commute. If you’re too far to commute, then consider finding a cheap rental in the area.

    To save the most money, consider a shared living arrangement with two or more roommates. Since housing costs vary in different areas, how much you’ll save can vary. Check sites like Trulia.com to find average rent in the area and check your school’s website for a comparison of on- and off-campus living cost estimates.

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