How to pay for college

Help with grants, scholarships and financial aid

As much as we all might wish for it, chances are pretty high you’re not going to have a major lottery windfall or discover a long-lost rich uncle any time soon. So when it comes to going to college, nearly every student is faced with figuring out how to pay for it. With average costs of a college degree increasing every year, it isn’t unrealistic for many students to be faced with tuition bills totaling close to $100,000 when it’s all said and done.

All students have the option of working while in school. Whether you work full-time or part-time, the money you earn can be applied directly to your costs for tuition and fees, room and board, books, and anything else you’ll need to get you through the school year. It’s a guaranteed source of financial aid, and you don’t have to prove you need the money to get a job and earn your paycheck. Your salary is guaranteed so long as you show up for work every day and get your job done. If you’re lucky enough to have tuition reimbursement offered as a workplace benefit, you might not have to worry about paying for school at all. However, for many students, the money they earn at work still isn’t enough to cover all the costs and they have to apply for financial aid.

The best source of financial aid is the kind that doesn’t have to be repaid, such as a grant. All federal grants are reserved for students with strong financial needs. They include the Pell grant, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) for students with “exceptional financial need,” the National SMART grant for students majoring in math or science, the Academic Competitiveness Grant for students with strong academic records and the TEACH Grant for education majors. Grants are also offered through state government programs and through individual schools. All of these kinds of grants are awarded with one application: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

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