According to statistics, families in the US spend an average of $26,000 per year on tuition fees and other college costs. This is very high, and most of them end up using up all of their savings and other earnings to get their kids through college.
Well, if you can afford it, this is fine, but for those that cannot afford this amount of money, it becomes quite tricky to maintain their kids in school, and have to devise ways of finding the money required.
The good news is that there are many options available for such families. In this blog, I am going to show you simple and practical ways of raising tuition fee, either on your own or with the help of your parents or the state.
So, don’t lose hope if you are currently in this situation. Keep reading to see whether you can be helped with your tuition fees.
Here are some practical examples of how to raise funds for college;
The federal government, together with colleges and the state normally issue grants to deserving students. These do not need to be repaid.
Most grants are however awarded based on your financial needs, and they are determined by the information you included in your FAFSA form.
What is FAFSA?
FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. If you are a student requiring financial aid, you must start by filling this form. Submitting it to your college will open for your many doors for getting financial aid.
You cannot do much without this form, i.e. when applying for grants and other forms of financial aid. You will also need it when applying for student loans issued by the federal government and other lenders that are willing to help with your tuition.
To show you just how serious this form is; In 2017, more than $2 billion student loans was unclaimed simply because parents and students failed to fill in the FAFSA form.
Now, let me give you a small tip; The earlier you fill out this form, the better it shall be for you, because most institutions will issue loans on a first come first served basis, and if you delay, you may find that the funds allocated for student loans have already been exhausted and you have not received anything.
But you need to know that you must have your parent's cooperation with the form. Assuming that you are one of their dependents, the form will require you to disclose certain information about your parents such as their income, assets, and taxes. All of this is used to determine your aid worthiness.
This information should not worry you. They are not trying to put them on the hook, but rather trying to understand how desperately you need aid.
Let's go back to grants;
There are very many grants available out there, and as mentioned earlier on, these are awarded on merit. It's not everyone that qualifies or even receives then, and in addition, the competition is quite stiff. Remember this is not like a loan. It is money you are given and you do not have to pay it back.
If, however, you are lucky enough to receive a grant, you shall be listed in the financial aid award letter. This will be sent by the school and it may even arrive with your college acceptance, but in some instances, it shall be received much later.
What happens with grants is that, they will evaluate your family's financial situation, and assess how much you can be able to pay in terms of tuition, then, they will fill up the gap for you.
Related: FAFSA Renewal
Working while you study:
You may think that it is impossible to earn enough money to pay for your school but you are wrong. Many students have managed to do this; work while studying and pay for their tuition and other types of fees.
A job is definitely something that every college student should consider, whether they have the funds to pay for school or not. This is because, there is always plenty of free time while in school, and instead of having nothing to do, you had rather earn some money.
It will help with your financial stability and the fact that you do not have to keep asking your parents for pocket money.
Now, that being said, there are plenty of well-paying jobs out there that a college student can do while still in school, and be able to earn their tuition and housing money.
Read this article: Best Jobs for College Students
These jobs are easy to find, and they pay you hourly. You could end up with enough money for what you need in school.
Look for scholarships:
Plenty of companies out there offer student scholarships to deserving students. These are NGO's, colleges, and even private enterprises that are looking to fulfill their part of social responsibility.
What you need to know is who is offering the scholarships and apply. In fact, every year, most universities award scholarships to students within their campus or even far away in other states or countries.
Although possible, scholarships are not easy to get, and you may end up frustrated if you rely entirely on this. They may also offer you just a percentage of the tuition as compared to full tuition.
It is therefore important to understand exactly what is being offered and whether or not you can be able to raise the rest of the funds required.
Scholarship applications should also start early, like when you are still in high-school. Consult your guidance counselor who will let you know where to apply, or go online and use platforms such as Scholly, to apply for one.
Take out loans:
This idea has the highest chances of succeeding, compared to all others we have talked about. But it should be your last resort.
Most students inevitably take out loans even when they have grants or scholarships, as the money they receive doesn’t necessarily cover their entire school bills. Typically, most people will use a student loan to cover at least 20% of their college cost.
Also read: How to Save Money in College
If you decide to borrow money, then, your first stop should be the federal government before you even try the private lenders. This is because federal loans have the lowest interest rates, and they have more protections for the borrower.
For this to happen, however – again, you must have filled out the FAFSA form. You will not be eligible for a federal loan if you haven’t filled out this form.
You can be able to borrow a loan, regardless of the income your family has. First-year students can actually be able to receive up to $5,500 from the federal government, and in some instances, if you demonstrate serious financial challenges, you can be allowed to borrow a subsidized loan that enables you to only start repaying after you graduate. It will also not accrue any interest.
The other type of federal loan is what is known as the PLUS loan. This is a loan that is taken out by a parent on behalf of a student. These loans will require a credit check of the parent, and they normally have a higher interest rate.
The school will then determine how much the said parent can borrow, but this amount is meant to cover the whole cost of attendance, less the financial aid you may receive.
The financial aid newsletter that you can find in your school normally has a breakdown of how much you can actually be able to borrow each year.
Also read: A guide to Credit Score for College Students