7 Ways To Help Pay for College Besides A Scholarship

Monday, August 12 at 09:00 AM
Category: Arvest News

We all know the sticker price of a four-year college degree can feel overwhelming to most families. It helps to keep in mind that, even without a scholarship, most students do receive other forms of financial aid.

Here are seven other ways to help pay for college:

1. Grants

Colleges, states, and the federal government give out grants, which don't need to be repaid. Most are awarded based on your financial need and determined by the income you reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

The biggest grant awards usually come from the college itself. Colleges will take into consideration how much they think your family can afford to pay and try to fill in the gap with a grant. According to The College Board, colleges and universities have significantly increased their total grant awards over the past few years.

2. Ask the college for more money

Yes, you can negotiate over financial aid. Experts suggest having the student write a formal appeal letter and then follow up with a phone call.

It's worth reemphasizing why you're a good fit for the school, and whether or not you received more aid from a comparable college. You can also explain your family’s financial situation more specifically. Or, your family's financial circumstances may have changed in the past year since completing the FAFSA.

Also find out if there are any department-specific scholarships or grants, or paid research jobs, you can apply for.

3. Work-study jobs

These are part-time jobs on or nearby campus for eligible students, depending on their finances and the funding available at the school. Work-study jobs pay students directly, at least once a month. You need to have submitted the FAFSA in order to qualify.

4. Apply for private scholarships

There are thousands of private scholarships out there from companies, nonprofits and community groups. Ask your high school guidance counselor or use a free online service like Scholly that suggests scholarships you might be eligible for. A company called Money Mentor offers a free mentor who can also suggest scholarships, as well as help you navigate and understand the financial aid process.

5. Consider loan options

Loans should be your last resort, but they're often inevitable if scholarships, grants and savings don't cover the entire bill. According to a recent Sallie Mae report, the typical family uses loans to cover around 25% of the cost of college.

Most students take out federal loans first before turning to a private lender, due to their lower interest rates and more borrower protections. This is yet another reason to fill out the FAFSA. You won't be able to get a federal student loan if you didn't submit the form.

You should be able to borrow regardless of your family's income. First-year undergrads can borrow up to $5,500. Some students who demonstrate more financial need will be allowed to borrow subsidized loans, which won't accrue interest until after they graduate.

Another type of federal student loan, called a PLUS loan, allows parents to borrow to help their child pay for college. The school will determine how much a parent can borrow, but the amount is supposed to cover the cost of attendance minus any other financial aid you get.

6. Claim a $2,500 tax credit

The American Opportunity Tax Credit allows you to reduce your taxes after paying for tuition, fees, books, and room and board — up to $2,500 a year per child. Parents can claim the tax credit if their modified adjusted gross income is no more than $90,000, or $180,000 if filing jointly.

7. Live off campus or enroll in community college

If commuting to school and living at home is an option, it can save a lot of money. The average cost for room and board is $11,140 per year at public colleges and $12,860 at private institutions, according to a report from The College Board.

If your finances are stretched, you also might consider enrolling in a community college before transferring to a four-year school later. The same report shows tuition and fees at the average community college cost $3,660 last year.Watch for new options

Student aid programs are evolving, so keep up your research and be on the lookout for new options that might apply to you. As an example, more companies now offer co-op or income-share agreements through schools to help qualified students fund their degrees, as an alternative to borrowing.

Meanwhile, if you have questions about starting a college savings account, stop in to see us at your local Arvest branch. Our friendly associates are here to help with all your financial needs!



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