I Cannot Afford College!
Read most any news article about the cost of a college education and your heart can quickly sink to your feet. That is because some reporters may focus on the average cost of tuition, room and books before financial aid is considered, skewing costs to levels that even few upper middle class families can afford.
Fortunately, college is not as expensive as you may think and there are a number of ways for you to afford your higher education without going deeply into debt. Even that pricey private college in the northeast can be within your range of affordability, provided that you keep the following in mind.
1. Most students qualify for financial aid. Yes, it is true. Even households with six-figure incomes can find it difficult to pay for college. Notably, many of these same households qualify for student aid. The only way to know for sure is for you to fill out a FAFSA — Free Application For Student Aid — and then review your SAR — Student Aid Report — to see how much you can save.
2. College scholarships are for the taking. You have heard that there are billions of dollars in college scholarships available to students each year. If you are a regular SayCampusLife reader, you’ve read that information right here. College scholarships aren’t always automatically given. Most times, you need to apply for them and these can range from a few hundred dollars to full-ride scholarships. We maintain a search scholarships page to help you find and apply for what truly is free money.
3. Grants are available. What is the difference between a loan and a grant? That’s easy: a loan has to be paid back, but a grant is a gift. In other words, it is free money. The most notable college financial grants are federal Pell grants. Such grants are awarded in amounts of up to $5,550 and are adjusted annually. The amount you can get depends on several things including your financial need, how much it costs for you to attend college, whether you are attending college as a part- or full-time student, and your education plans. Some states offer grants too.
4. You may qualify for a job. If you’ve exhausted your financial aid possibilities, you may qualify for part-time on-campus employment that can help you close your financial gap. With this option you may work a limited number of hours and earn money that can cover your personal expenses including your books. For some students, a part-time job is all that they need to make it in college and avoid student loans.
College financial aid offices are adept at working with students that are struggling to pay for their education. Meet with a college aid adviser to discuss your needs. You may be eligible to have your financial aid package reviewed or discover ways to apply for additional student aid. The sticker price for college is certainly high, but the final price you pay can come in at a far lower amount.