9 Ways to Pay for College

Wondering how to pay for college?

Earning a college degree is a great investment in your future, and, luckily, there are ways to make it more affordable. Follow the nine tips below to make an affordable, valuable college degree a reality.

The FAFSA form enables you and your parents to submit financial information to the government so that it can determine what federal financial aid you are eligible to receive. Even if you think your family won’t qualify, submit your FAFSA anyway. The information is necessary to qualify you for other federal grants, institutional grants, and student loans. Check out www.studentaid.ed.gov to learn about the types of aid available and how to complete your FAFSA online to save time.

Don’t procrastinate! Many colleges and universities have a priority filing date for financial aid. They need your information by that date to begin awarding some financial aid options, like work study, that are more limited.

Virtually every college shares scholarship information on its website, so you can quickly see what you are eligible for based on your ACT/SAT scores and GPA. Often, these scholarships take no extra work – if you meet the qualifications, you’re automatically awarded the money. Find out which guaranteed and academic scholarships you are eligible for

Many community organizations, such as local banks, Elks Lodges, and Kiwanis Clubs, offer scholarships. Students often forget to look for these — which means there is less competition for the money. Also, check if your parents’ employers offer scholarships.

Many applications ask for similar information, so you can save tons of time by writing one or two essays that you can use for all of them. Also, make sure to have reference letters, extracurricular lists, and volunteer experiences ready so that you can easily add them to each submission.

Apply for any scholarships for which you are eligible, regardless of the amount involved. A $500 award may not seem like much, but if you earn three or four smaller scholarships, you can save thousands of dollars.

Several academic majors, such as teaching and public service, offer programs that help you pay for your education. For example, the federal TEACH grant gives education majors $4,000/year when they focus on high-need areas such as science, math, and special education. 

See if the schools you’re interested in offer part-time employment or work-study positions. Since these jobs are located conveniently on campus and typically require 6-10 hours per week, they can help you make extra money while you focus on your studies.

If you have questions, call the colleges on your prospect list. In addition to telling you about the scholarships and aid available, the staff can point you to other resources on FAFSA, student loans, etc. They want to make college affordable for you, so don’t be afraid to ask them for help!

Get in touch with the MMU Financial Aid Office by emailing finaid@mountmarty.edu.