5 Tips to Help Pay for CollegeTuition, textbooks, meal plans, housing and all the other miscellaneous items that come with attending college...does this give you heart palpitations? Sweaty palms? Anxiety? With the ever-rising cost of college tuition, many students and parents are nervous about selecting the right funding options.
According to College Board, for the 2014-2015 academic year, the average cost of tuition and fees was:
- Public Two-Year (In-District) - $3,336
- Private Colleges - $31,231
- Public Colleges (in-state residents) - $9,139
- Public College (out of state residents) - $22,958
These sticker prices can be particularly unsettling as you begin to think about making one of the biggest investments of your life. This doesn’t have to be scary, we're here to help! My biggest suggestion to all students and families is to be well informed before making your decisions. Make sure to DO YOUR RESEARCH! Here are 5 tips that can help ease the worry of paying for college.
1.) Complete Your Financial Aid Applications Early, But Watch Out for the Changes!
The Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) application opened for the 2016-2017 academic year on January 1st and requires the information from your 2015 income tax return. Estimated tax information can be provided if you haven't filed your taxes and can be updated later. Schools use the information from the FAFSA to determine the amount of money a family is expected to contribute to the price of attending a postsecondary institution. The results of the FAFSA are used in determining student grants, work-study, and loan amounts.
It also recommended to verify whether your school will require College Scholarships Service Profile (CSS). The CSS is required for nearly 300 schools and scholarship programs and goes beyond the questions on the FAFSA to determine eligibility for non-federal aid. Unsure if your school requires the CSS Profile? Check here for a list of the participating colleges and universities.
Keep in mind, unlike the FAFSA which is FREE; there is a $25.00 cost for the CSS. Be sure to check with your school(s) for their application deadlines as funds may be issued on a first-come-first-served basis.
Now here's is where things get a little interesting. Starting October 1, 2016, the FAFSA application will move from opening on January 1st to October 1st. This means that your 2015 tax information will count TWICE – once for the 2016-2017 academic year and then when FAFSA switches to the new time for the 2017-2018 academic year.
2.) Never Stop Searching for Grants & Scholarships!
Check with your with your guidance counselor or financial office for scholarship listings. Many local, national, international businesses and non-profit organizations also offer scholarships and the information can be easily found with a quick internet search. To help gather a list of the scholarship that you may be eligible for check out websites like Fastweb.com, Cappex.com, read scholarship books, and download the Scholly from your app store. Any amount of money that can help offset the cost of college is well worth your time. The key is to remain consistent!
3.) Get a Job!
Contact your school’s career services office to see if there are any available on-campus and off-campus positions. Getting a job is a great way to earn extra cash. It can also help establish work history and build your resume.
If you plan on living on campus – try applying for a Resident Advisor (RA) position. Depending on your school, this could significantly reduce or eliminate the cost of housing.
Have a talent or skill? Try freelancing on projects! Websites like upwork.com, freelancer.com, and fiverr.com provide platforms to obtain jobs that may be worked on remotely. Need help with getting started? Check out this amazing guide by Lewis Parrott on how to get started on Fiverr https://thefreelanceeffect.com/make-money-fiverr
4.) It’s Never Too Early to Look into Internships & Career Programs
Internships and career programs provide an amazing opportunity to gain on-the-job training and may lead to a possible job prospect upon graduating. And of course, it doesn’t hurt if you are able to score a position which provides some compensation in the process. Check out the Pathways Program on USA Jobs or with businesses in your area for opportunities.
5.) Use Social Media
Social Media is a powerful tool at your disposal and can be used to discover internships & scholarship opportunities. We at US College Experts (@USCExperts) often post alerts on opportunities as we become aware of them on our Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Try searching hashtags relating to education such as #scholarship, #fellowship #internship, #college, #financialaid #highered, and #collegebound. Also try following @FAFSA, @scholarshipscom, @ScholAmerica, @Admissions411, @volunteennation, @OpportunityDesk, and @scholarships360 for educational and scholarship information.
Do you have any tips to help with cutting the cost of college? We would love to hear from you.
US College Experts is an educational consulting company entirely dedicated to preparing, inspiring, and connecting students to the best college opportunities.