Part 1: Student loans
If you’re like many high school graduates, or are thinking about going back to college in the future, the idea of paying for it can seem overwhelming. Marketwatch.com conducted a survey of 5,000 Americans in 2015. It found that 62% had less than $1,000 in savings and 20% did not have a savings account. According to collegedata.com, the average cost for college tuition in America for 2015-2016 is $9,410 for residents in the state attending public colleges, $23,893 for residents out of the state, and $32,405 at private colleges. If you’re not living at home, or with support family, these costs don’t include living expenses or text books. There are also additional expenses such as tutoring and lab fees. The big question is how can a person afford it all?
It isn’t easy to answer because college costs can be financed using multiple strategies. If you don’t have any savings for college, then the best solution is to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) with the United States Department of Education. You will be able to find out what student loans you might qualify for by doing this. If you need to borrow money to pay for college, this is the best option. The interest rates are usually lower and the terms of repayment are more flexible. You should not borrow money if you have exhausted all other options to pay for your education. A large student loan debt can make it difficult to graduate. If you delay making student loan payments, interest will accrue. This will only increase your total debt and make it more difficult to repay your loan. You should treat any type of loan like an emergency. Don’t borrow money unless absolutely necessary!
Part 2: I don’t have to pay for college…
Did you know that “nothing is ever for free”? Scholarships and grants, which are basically “free money” for college, have some cost attached. Fund for Thought, for example, requires you to fill out an application and write a essay in order for you to be considered for a scholarship. In this case, the cost would be $20 for the application and 20 minutes to complete the essay packet. This “cost” is small compared to the possibility that you could receive $2000 of “free money”, towards college. Grants and scholarships are considered “free money” since you don’t have to repay them. They are awarded for some type of achievement or qualification.
Apply for as many grants and scholarships as possible. You can find the best scholarship databases online, high school guidance counselors, and the financial aid office at the university where you are going to study. They often have extensive lists of scholarships that are currently available and can assist you if you have any questions. Local churches, civic organizations, and businesses may sponsor scholarships for students. You may be able to find “free money” in your community by looking at local newspapers and reading community announcements. You have a better chance of getting “free money” to go to college if you take the time and search for grants and scholarships.
Part 3: Scholarship Search
Because there are so many resources available, we wanted to expand on the topic of scholarship searching. It can be daunting for individual scholars. There are many types of scholarships that can be offered and they can all be classified by different attributes. To help you get started with your search, we thought it best to compile a list.
1. Scholarships for High School Students undergraduate scholarships
3. masters scholarships
4. National scholarships
5. international scholarships (Canadian scholarships, exchange student scholarships)
6. No cost scholarships
7. online scholarships
8. Full-ride scholarships
Community service scholarship
10. Company sponsored scholarships (Pepsi scholarship. Walmart scholarship. McDonald’s scholarship.
11. Race/ethnic origin scholarships (native american scholarship, Hispanic scholarship fund).
12. Scholarships for area of study (journalism scholarships and law school scholarships).
13. Scholarships in areas of need (teach scholarships, early intervention scholarships)
14. Merit-based scholarships that are based on academic and/or sports achievements
Although this list is not exhaustive, it will help you get started. Everyone can receive college money free of charge. Applying for as many scholarships and grants as possible will increase your chances of receiving an award.
Michele Mackin, MBA, is a guest blogger for [http://www.fundforthought.com], a scholarship website for undergraduate, graduate, and international students. She shares her personal experience with paying for her masters program and offers insight for students interested in higher education.
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