If the only thing standing in the way of a solid career is an education, and the only thing standing in the way of that is cash, the good news is, we know where to find it. Student loans are a common choice, but why start out a career with a debt that could easily fund a full mortgage? There are plenty of ways to get cash for college, with enough left over to do more than just survive.
Before students look to student loans to fund their education, they might consider sources that will help them get through college with a bright future rather than a mound of debt. From grants, scholarships, and covered fees to odd jobs and corporate assistance, there is a long list of entities ready to fund the future. Take a look and see how you might fund your education and then some.
Ready to Get Through Your Academic Career Debt Free? We’ve Got You Covered!
Turn the Key to Financial Aid
If there is one golden ticket to financing college, it’s the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Without it, no student can access federal or state student aid. Potential or current students can start filling out the FAFSA as early as October 1st on the year preceding the year they want to enroll. So, students starting school in September of 2019 can fill out their FAFSA as soon as October 1, 2018.
The FAFSA weighs the expense of college, including tuition, books, supplies, and the cost of living against the resources of the applicant. This may be the only time in life when being broke is an actual advantage. The fewer financial resources applicants have, the more assistance they qualify for.
Applicants don’t even need all of their financial information. The FAFSA can be completed using estimates, rather than true numbers. The advantage of this is that anyone can file early and have their FAFSA marked as turned in by the date they complete it, which opens up opportunities for state aid that students who file late wouldn’t get. At any time, students can return to the FAFSA and update their financial information with true numbers.
THe FAFSA is just the beginning. It doesn’t indicate how much financial aid anyone qualifies for. Instead, it indicates how much the individual is responsible for paying. When the cost of everything is added up, the individual’s “expected contribution” is deducted and what is left is what the student qualifies for in state and federal funds. We’ll explore some of those next.
Grants and Scholarships
Grants and scholarships are funds that only have to be repaid if the student fails to meet the expectations. Basically, complete the classes with a passing grade, and it’s a done deal. Even when students fail, they don’t immediately lose funding. Instead, they get academic probation that gives them another funded shot at completing their education.
There are both federal and state grants and scholarships, with each state having its own FAFSA deadline. Be sure to check the deadline for your state. Those who file after the deadline do not qualify for state funds.
In the case of some special scholarships, like the Project TEACH grant, the scholarship is converted to a student loan if the expectations of the agreement aren’t met. Some of those have nothing to do with grades and everything to do with post-graduation efforts. In the case of Project TEACH, graduates are required to complete minimal professional requirements within a specific amount of time in order to maintain the scholarship as a scholarship and not a student loan. However, all of the details of the expectations are outlined clearly before the student is even approved for funding.
Universities and colleges also offer their own funding. That’s just one reason to make sure to visit the financial aid office every year. What they had available last year may not be available this year, but new scholarships may have been added. And you don’t necessarily have to be an honor student to qualify. Some scholarships are offered based on demographics and first-come-first-serve alone.
Brick and Mortar schools also offer work-study programs, with schedules that work with class times. Some even offer low cost dorms or shared apartments, so that students can easily navigate between work and school.
Low income parents who go to college may be able to have their sitter paid by the state. With the rising cost of daycare, this takes a large financial burden off of the parent. Qualified sitters are certified, which means parents can pick from currently certified sitters, or choose someone they know who meets the qualifications and can get certified. This might not be income, but it sure helps parents keep more of their own earnings.
Other than being offered money to go to school, student can also earn cash by helping other students in their free time. Students are more likely to seek help from those at their own school than to go to a stranger who may not be as familiar with the curricula or requirements. Below are just some of the options, but creative students can certainly put their individuality to the test and come up with some of their own.
- Tutoring: For those who have the skills to help others learn, tutoring can be a fantastic way to make some extra cash. As an added bonus, this particular service can be offered from online as well as brick and mortar students.
- Editing: If there is one thing students can expect to do a lot of, it’s writing endless essays. For those who feel their writing may not be quite up to par, or even for the ones who just can’t wrap their minds around APA, MLA, or any other specific type of formatting, a solid editor is invaluable.
- Selling Study Supplies: Online schools tend to have more to offer in the way or diversity when it comes to learning materials. They supplement the lack of a classroom environment with videos and lectures, but even that may not be enough. A motivated learner who can make flash cards, slideshows, tutorials, or even study guides can make a tidy sum doing what they might do for themselves anyhow.
- Writing: We aren’t suggesting you write anyone’s papers for them, because that is against every school’s policies, which should be taken seriously by students who don’t want to face academic death. However, if you have to research and write endless essays, that means you have valuable information to share. Students can use what they already have and create copy for websites, magazines or even authors who need research assistance.
For those who qualify, state and federal aid can be very helpful during the college years. When it comes to qualifying for food stamps (EBT), healthcare and some forms of cash assistance, work requirements can often be replaced or supplemented with learning time. That means instead of being required to work 40 hours, full time students can use their full time status to meet the 40 hour requirement. The premise is that the state wants to see individuals doing something, whether it’s working for cash or working towards developing a career after graduation.
A lack of money should never stop anyone from getting the education they crave. And student loans should never be the first option. Sometimes, getting funds for school is as simple as contacting companies to find out if they offer anything to students. In a world immersed in branding, there is no shortage of companies to contact and ask about scholarships or awards. From the FAFSA to name brands, local companies, and odd jobs, money for college can be just a phone call or keystroke away.