It can be exciting opening your college acceptance packet the first time and going over housing choices, meal plans, class schedules, and all the other fun items packed into those folders. But the one form in there that can upset all of those feelings is the tuition costs. There are ways, however to make that number seem manageable. You just have to look a little bit to find them.
Every year Universities and Colleges across the US raise their tuition prices just enough to make us all sweat a bit more. The good news is that with this raise we also have seen an increase in ways to take the pressure off of our students so they don't leave with a degree and a lot of debt. We have compiled a few of the better ways to bring down your tuition costs so you can spend a bit more time planning your classes not your finances.
Sometimes the obvious places to look are the best. The SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) offers some helpful, safe infromation for students looking to help pay for school tuition and student loans. Download a copy of their pamphlet on "Saving and Investing for Students," for free. Be sure to read up on all the ways you can save & earn.
One of the best ways to help bring down tuition costs is to look for scholarships. There is a variety out there with different amounts possible from each group. You don't have to be a talented or gifted student either, some scholarships need specific ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, or knowledge, but others just need you to spend some time filling out the application.
You want to make sure you really read all the information about a scholarship including how they distribute their cash (is it one lump sum or do they spread it out over a certain amount of time) and whether or not they allow you to reapply at a later date. Reading up on the scholarship will also make you look better if there is an interview requirement or essay needed.
Of course these opportunities won't just jump out at you (well some might... but you get the idea) so make sure you keep checking for new opportunities or updated chances so you don't miss out on one you might qualify for. Some great places to start are:
You also want to check out some of the bigger corporate chains like Coca Cola, Google and AT&T who all offer Scholarships or Fellowship options for students to apply for. Another place to look is locally at either local banks or maybe larger local businesses to see what they might offer in scholarship funds.
No matter where it comes from one thing remains the same about scholarships, the money is free so you never have to worry about paying it back to someone later on.
Many colleges or universities also offer work study options you can choose from. What a work study does is allow you to work for the school and instead of giving you a paycheck at the end of the month the money would go into an account to pay for tuition. These jobs can be in the cafeteria, the library, one of the administrative offices, or even have you working for a professor or in a lab helping out with research. Talk to a financial advisor from your school to see what options they may have to offer.
Where there are college campus' there are bars, restaurants, bookstores, clothing stores, concession stands and so many other places you could go to get a job. Now the difference here is that you will be getting a paycheck from your employer instead of letting it go straight towards your tuition so make sure you keep track of what you have made and how much you owe.
You can also try applying for freelance jobs or use some of the online methods to earn money. Most of these will only allow you to get a little cash (like under $100) but they can be easy ways to earn money in your spare time between classes or at the end of the day. For instance if you are a graphic designer or writer look up some freelance gigs that you can do quickly and get paid one lump sum. Websites such as Freelancer.com can make it easy to search out new fast jobs you can do.
You could also try any of the "get paid to search" sites like:
Now you want to be careful with these, but it doesn't hurt to try them out and see if they can help you at all.
Try opening a separate savings or checking account specifically for paying tuition maybe at a local bank in the area. Make sure there is no minimum balance and put a specific amount of each paycheck in there to help you save up for your tuition payment. This makes it easier for you to keep track of what is there at any given moment and also lets you have some of your hard earned money to have fun with. Remember though that paying for school should always come first.
One other way to work for some extra cash is to sign up for Psychology experiments. Most colleges have Psych students running experiments that they need people to take. These can range from filling out a simple survey, to playing a game, to solving weird mental problems in a room with cameras on you. If you aren't comfortable doing them, then don't but depending on the experiment and whether or not you have to do more than one session they can pay pretty well.
One of the best ways to be prepared for crazy tuition costs is to start preparing ahead of time. Of course this can be hard if you weren't expecting to get into a school or you never planned on college, but even having a savings account set aside, just in case, is a great way to feel better about it. If you are a parent looking for ways to save up there are also great money management plans out there to start a college savings plan before your kid can even read. It's never too early to start saving and these plans also allow you to pull the money if they end up not going to school.
When you apply scholarship funds, paychecks, and any other method of getting a bit of extra cash, to a tuition payment the outrageous amount can quickly shrink to a more manageable number. So do a bit of digging and see what you can come up with to help you enjoy college without the stress of student debt hanging over your head.Tweet
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