Save Up Ahead of Time
Obviously, it’s ideal if you’re able to start separate savings account well ahead of time, whether the student is you or your offspring or anyone else for whom you’re responsible. Keep in mind that even a few thousand dollars can make a huge difference when it’s time figuring out how to pay for college. In addition to tuition, there are application fees, textbooks to buy, on-campus housing, and endless other expenses to consider. The ability to pay for many of these peripheral costs out of savings simplifies things considerably. And the less you have to borrow, the better.
Grants and Scholarships
Everyone knows that grants and scholarships are amazing, primarily because you don’t have to pay them back. The trick, sometimes, is finding them. They come from so many different sources. And because they’re often privately funded and target specific schools, demographics, majors, or other factors, there’s no one source for locating all for which you might qualify.
That does not mean, however, that you should ever, ever, EVER pay someone to look for grants, scholarships, or any other sort of financial aid for you. There are no secret codes for tracking these things down – no private databases or inside tracks. Every possible bit of information related to financial aid is free for the asking, and that’s how it should stay.
I’m going to assume you’re already familiar with the FAFSA. It’s your one-stop ticket for anything offered through state or federal government or the college or other post-secondary institution of your choice. The FAFSA acts as an informational tool for schools you’re considering, so they can help you with options. And a sort of universal student loan locator – at least when it comes to traditional student loan options.
You should always complete a FAFSA early in the process, however you plan on paying for school and whether you expect to qualify for aid or not.
The stuff that we’re talking about are things like that $500 scholarship your parents’ church offers for anyone going into the ministry, or the $2000 a local Native American group has available for anyone who can establish tribal membership or money from a local industry to support students pursuing training in electronic engineering or plasma physics or arts and crafts. Whatever it is they need more of but can’t find enough of.