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How To Pay For College

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Just imagine you’ve received the acceptance letter to college, but there’s no mention of any scholarship. What would you do next? Would you give up on your college education? You need not worry. There are many ways on how to pay for college through which you can get help to finance your education. 

On average, the cost of tuition, board, and room in private colleges can be as high as $45,000 per year. However, some students pay about $26,000 only after receiving financial assistance.

In public colleges, the average cost amounts to about $20,000, but some students end up paying only about $14,000.

Watch the video below on how to calculate college costs

So, even if you don’t get a scholarship, you can still find ways to pay for your education. If you want to know how to pay for college, continue reading.


The federal government, states, and colleges usually give grants to college students. These grants are never repaid but are given out based on the financial needs of the students. The amount you qualify for will depend on the income you indicated on FAFSA.

In case you get some grant, the college will inform you via a letter, and indicate the amount you’ve been awarded. This letter can come at the same time with the acceptance letter, or the college can sen it to you at a later date.

The College Board reports that in 2019, students in public colleges received an average of $5,000 in grants, while their counterparts in private colleges received an average of $16,000.

The college will consider what your family can pay and try to top it up for you with a grant. Some colleges give more grants than others.

Request The College To Give You More Money

You don’t need to gamble with financial aid. Try to get as much as you can, so you and your family can have peace of mind.

You can write a formal letter of appeal to your college, then make phone calls to follow up. In the letter, you can emphasize the reason(s) why you are the best fit for the college, and also explain the financial situation of your family.

Your family might be having other financial obligations like medical bills that your letter needs to cover. Just mention that the financial status of your family has changed. This is because financial aid given will depend on the income from the previous year.

Apply For Work-Study Jobs

If you are eligible for work-study jobs, you can consider applying for one, either within the campus or somewhere nearby. For you to be eligible for work-study jobs, you must submit FAFSA first.

With these jobs, you’ll be paid directly every month. Some jobs pay on an hourly basis, but the amount you earn can never exceed your yearly work-study award. The amount you qualify for as a work-study award will be included in a letter sent to you by the college.

If you fail to get a work-study job, you can consider taking up a part-time job. The advantage of a part-time job is that the college will not control the amount you earn.

There are websites like WayUp and Quadjobs that post part-time jobs for students. These jobs may include dog walking, tutoring, babysitting, or any other jobs that are related to your course.

Consider Private Scholarships

If you can’t get federal or state scholarships, you can apply for a private scholarship. There are thousands of such scholarships from community groups, nonprofits, or private companies.

Use an online service such as Scholly to find scholarships you qualify for. You can also visit the guidance and counseling office in your high school to get information about private scholarships you can be eligible for.

Take Loans

If all else fails, you can consider taking a student loan. This should be your last option because loans must be repaid. A loan may also be necessary if you get a grant or scholarship that can not cover all your college expenses.

On average, students use loans to cover about 20% of their college expenses. If you’ve decided to go for a loan, start with the federal government loan. This loan is offered at a lower interest rate compared to private loans. Here again, you’ll have to fill the FASFA form before applying for a federal loan.

If you are a first-year undergraduate student, you can apply for up to $5,500. If you are in dire financial need and you can prove it, you may be offered subsidized loans that don’t attract any interest before you graduate.

The federal government also offers a PLUS loan which allows your parents to borrow on your behalf and use the amount on your college education. This loan attracts a high-interest rate and requires a credit check. Your college will determine how much your parents can get. The amount given should cover your attendance cost less any financial aid you received.

The financial aid award letter you receive from your college should indicate the much you can borrow from the federal government.

Join a Community College Or Live Outside Campus

Joining a community college or living off-campus is not a way of paying for college but is a way of reducing your college expenses so that the amount you have can help you in covering other costs.

If you can commute from home, the better. The average price of accommodation in public colleges is $10,440, while in private colleges, it is as high as $11,890. This amount is enough to pay for your tuition in some colleges. Joining a community college is another way that can help you save some money to pay for your education.

Final Words

As you can see, there’s no need to give up on your education if you can’t get a scholarship. Knowing how to pay for college using the various methods available at your disposal will allow you to earn your degree without any hitches.

The good news is that most of these ways of paying for college are not repayable. Try all these avenues before you go for a loan.

How do I pay for college without my parents?

There are a number of ways that you can do that. Apply FAFSA, apply for a scholarship, take a loan,  get a part-time job, minimize your college expenses, apply for college assistance and consider taking federal students loans.

How do parents pay for college?

Most parents pay for college using scholarships, income or savings

Can a parent be forced to pay for college?

Parents whose marriage is intact are not obliged to pay college fees, However, for parents who are divorced, they may be  obliged to pay for college depending on the divorce settlement terms

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