College

Paying for College Creatively

It’s very rare for a person to have the liquid cash flow required to fund a college education. It’s far more common for aspiring students to have to come up with creative ways to pay for their college degree. If you are heading off to college this fall and stressing out about how you’ll pay for it, we’ve got some ideas for you. Here are five ways that you can make it to graduation without going broke:

1. Community College

Community, or junior, college can be the answer that many students are looking for. Rather than paying $20,000 to $40,000 a year for four years at a more prestigious school, consider getting your first two years of classes out of the way at a more affordable community college. A community college will allow you to get all of your general ed classes out of the way for a fraction of the cost. Once you’ve earned your two-year degree, you can transfer to a four-year university to complete your bachelor’s.

2. Fast-Track Your Degree

Many colleges today offer accelerated degree programs. Some universities allow you to earn a bachelor’s degree in three years, and some universities allow you to earn your bachelor’s and master’s at the same time. If you can find a program that suits your career goals, you can save one or two years of tuition by taking the fast track.

3. Cheap Schools

There are various colleges and universities throughout the country where you can get a discounted, or even free, tuition. If you are in the top 25 percent of your class, there are colleges that want you and will pay your way. Alternatively, there are schools that will lock in your freshman tuition rate for the rest of your time at the school. Finding these colleges can save you big when it comes to funding your education.

4. Work-Study

If you are interested in gaining valuable experience while you’re in college, consider a work-study program. You won’t get paid for the work that you do, but working just 10 to 15 hours per week can net you a hefty discount on your college tuition. Almost every school offers some type of work-study program and will have information for you in the financial aid office.

5. Scholarships

Are you a vegan? Do you have a special talent? Are you of a certain ethnicity? There is a college scholarship out there for almost everyone; you just have to search for it. Start looking through the financial aid office at the college of your choice. Most colleges offer scholarships specific to their school, and the financial aid office can point you in the right direction of more scholarship opportunities. Books of available scholarships can be found in your local library or you can search online. No matter what you do, don’t give up. There are thousands of scholarships out there that go unused every year simply because students didn’t apply for them.

Paying for college can be a hardship for many people. If you are considering skipping college because you can’t afford it, don’t give up just yet. There are creative ways to fund your college education if you just look for them.

Lyndsey Freeman is a full-time writer for higher ed blogs and journals nationwide with a focus on business education opportunities. Several schools offer online MBA degrees, including Howard University and Georgetown University.