Getting a college education nowadays is more expensive than ever before. Most students today don’t have rich parents who can foot their college bills. So finding ways to help pay for college can reduce your student loans and keep you from starting out life under a mountain of debt. There are seven highly effective steps smart students use to help pay for college without your parents, huge student loans, or even going broke!
Step 1: Planning Ahead = Big College Savings
Even if I just gave you $1,000 it would barely make a dent in helping you to pay for college if your total college tuition was $100,000 or god forbid $200,000! So the moral of the story is planning ahead is the first step towards paying for college. If you’re going to school to be a doctor or lawyer then that’s acceptable because your potential income will pay for your student loans. But if the starting salary in your field is $30,000 to even $50,000+ you really need to think twice before you go signing students loans you won’t be able to afford!
So before you pick a college ask yourself, “Is there a more affordable way to earn a quality college education?” Here are some ideas to brainstorm. Does your high school offer Advanced Placement (AP) courses or dual credit agreements with the local community college so you can start earning college credit today for less? Or can you start out at a community college or at least a public in-state college so you can pay for college at a more “affordable” college before you make that jump to colleges with a pricier price tag? And also don’t forget room and board adds to your total college tuition bill. So can you live with family or friends while in college or at least select the least expensive dorm and meal plan? Your goal should be to get the most quality college education for the most affordable price.
Step 2: Apply For College Grants
College grants are free and you don’t have to pay them back! They are the second step for any pay for college how-to. College Grants are monies given by the state and Federal government to help students pay for their college education. Once you submit your FAFSA (Federal Application for Federal Student Aid), you are automatically in the running for any federal and most state grants based on your financial need. If you’re a graduate student, ask your college if there are any non-need based grants available for your degree program (aka fellowships). Getting a grant or two can help you pay for college without having to resort to huge student loans.
Step 3: Look For College Scholarships
You should ALWAYS be on the lookout for college scholarships. Before you go to college, once you’re in college, and even after college (aka loan forgiveness). Free money is ALWAYS the best way to pay for college! Some college scholarships are based on financial need, but many are based on specific criteria like academics, athletics, heritage, hobbies, affiliations, and the list goes on. My advice to college students is, don’t expect college scholarships to come to you, YOU have to go to them.
You should leave no rock unturned at your high school, college, businesses in your community (and national too), community organizations, church, associations, and more. You need to search high and low in scholarships books available at your local library or on the World Wide Web. If you still need help ask your school counselor to help you find and apply for scholarships for which you might be eligible. Hint: Many scholarships just require a simple application and personal essay that can easily be “recycled” over and over again. So there is NO EXCUSE not to apply to a MINIMUM of 25-50 college scholarships that will help you pay for college.
Step 4: Manage Your Living Expenses/Save Money on College Textbooks
In step 2-3 I told you how to find free money to pay for college, but if you’re spending it just as fast on eating out, retail therapy, or buying the latest iPhone/iPad then what’s the point?! There’s the saying “poor college student” for a reason. So every penny spent should be scrutinized to be able to reduce, eliminated, or find alternatives. Reduce your living expenses by shopping around or splitting with roommates, eliminate vending machines by bring your own snacks from home, and find alternatives like second hand furniture on Craiglists. There’s thousands of books and blogs on saving money, cutting coupons, and subscribing to discount programs like Groupons or StudentUniverse.com. So I’m not going to rehash the same ol’ same ol’.
But one area I don’t think gets enough attention is that book publishers AND the college bookstore are a complete and utter rip off! Yeah I said it!! THEY sell high and buy low, which does YOU no good. Take the middle man out and by used books online on sites like Ebay’s Half.com or Amazon.com. I don’t know how many classes I’ve had where the college bookstore wanted $150, but after I bought and sold it on Amazon it only cost me $15-20! Also another one of my coveted secrets is to ask your professor if you can use a previous or even international edition of the textbook. I once used this method to buy a book for $5 used verses the $115 new the bookstore wanted. I felt sorry for the other students that got completely ripped off, because to add insult to injury there were mostly UNNOTICEABLE changes between the two editions. So don’t let this happen to YOU!!!
Note: You can download certain popular textbooks for free from websites like Freeload Press.
Step 5: Avoid Impulse Buying on Credit Cards
Going along with step 4, credit cards can be a BIG expense for college students; especially if you’re not careful. That’s why I’m here to warn you that the most important class you’ll ever take in college is when you walk by the credit card company table and they offer you a “free” t-shirt in exchange for signing-up for their credit card. It seems like a win-win at first; after all you get a free Simpson’s t-shirt and “unlimited” access to fast cash. But that credit card you hold in your hands is really a pass-fail test.
Pass this test and it will keep you out of a lot of credit card trouble and banks will love you. But fail this test and watch how high your interest rates sky rocket and your credit score takes a dive. I don’t have time to get into detail in this article, but keep this in the back of your head. When you go to make your first major purchase after you landed that fancy job, whether it be a new car, house, or expensive gadget. A bank will NEVER ask you for your college academic report card, but they will ALWAYS ask you for your credit score. That’s why step 5 to paying for college is the most important test you’ll ever take in college, so study hard!
Step 6: Make Extra Money
In steps 4-5 we talked about watching the money going OUT your pocket. Another way to help pay for college or at least pay your living expenses is to work while going to school so money is coming IN your pocket. This will also help keep your hands off the credit cards! So any (legal) way you can make extra money to pay for college is a good thing. The best college job is something that is related to your field of study, but there’s nothing wrong with taking a job to “just pay the bills!” Of course, any job should NEVER interfere with your college studies, so if your grades start to suffer it means it’s time to STOP.
Here’s a list to brainstorm: FASFA work study, college internship, tutoring, teacher assistant, campus tour guide, school event staff, part-time jobs off campus, baby-sitting, pet-sitting, house-sitting, medical study participant, working for family or friends, starting a business, building websites for businesses, freelance photography, fixing cars, painting houses, advertise your skilled trade on Craiglists, and the list goes on. Now try thinking of some other ways you can earn extra money to pay for college.
Step 7 (The Secret Weapon): Test Out Of Your College Courses
The last step and secret weapon to pay for college and get a college degree for less is by testing out of some of your college courses. Most colleges and universities give college credits for CLEP exams (College Level Examination Program). CLEP exams, developed by the same test makers as the SAT and AP, are a simple way for students to earn college credit by testing out of college classes. In short, if you pass the exam, you pass the class, and earn the SAME amount of college credit without ever having to step foot in a classroom! The best part is these exams only cost about $77.00 each which is MUCH cheaper than the average college course.
Want to learn more about CLEP? Click here to Watch a FREE Training Video to Discover How-To Pay for College by Testing Out of College.
By testing out of college courses you can Graduate FASTER, with LESS Student Debt, and JUMP start your career. Many students say CLEP helped them to both pay for college and offered them the flexibility needed to earn their college degree. And CONTRARY to what you’re thinking, CLEP Exams were designed to be self-study. So in exchange for a few weeks (and sometimes even days) of studying you can save both time and money while earning your college degree.
Click here to learn my secret how I SAVED $40,000 and graduated 2-years FASTER with CLEP!
Tags: pay for college