5 Creative Ways to Pay for College

Congrats! You’ve been accepted to college! Right now you’re feeling a rush of excitement, but you know what will come soon: worry about how you’ll pay for what may be one of your most expensive investments yet. The good news is that you’ve got funding options, ranging from sponsorships offered by local service organizations to merit scholarships provided by your college.

Traditional methods of paying for college include student loans, fellowships and grants, but these aren’t your only options. In fact, there are quite a few sources of extra funding that you may not have considered yet.

Join the Navy to see the world

While not all service commitments are created equally, you’ve got several options when it comes to taking this route to pay for school. The military is certainly the most commonly known service commitment, but there are many others. Some of these additional programs feature opportunities to travel, making them a perfect fit for those with a desire to see the world while they study.

Each branch of the military has a specific health professions program. Col Henry, a command surgeon in the Special Operations community, utilized the Army’s Health Professions Scholarship Program while in medical school.

ROTC is another good option. Air Force ROTC students receive a monthly stipend throughout the year, ranging from $300 to $500. Additional scholarships through the Army ROTC program can be awarded up to $80,000 for tuition and educational fees. Each program varies, so be sure to talk to your ROTC program of interest.

Like living on campus? Become a resident assistant

While they are responsible for managing conflicts and mentoring students in the dorms, resident assistants (RAs) reap some great benefits. Free housing is one, and many RAs have reduced meal plans and even tuition discounts. If you’re living on campus anyway, consider the option. It’s not always the easiest job, but if you can balance the responsibility of this job and your studies, you might find it’s a perfect fit for you.

Take a gap year

Taking a year off in between high school and college doesn’t make you the odd person out. Gap (or glide) years are the norm across Europe and Australia.

One of the best benefits of taking a gap year is having time to figure out what you want while saving money to pay for school. Nothing is worse than having to pay for an extra semester or two because you didn’t take the right classes from the beginning!

Even if you worked a minimum wage job and lived at home during the year, you’re still starting out ahead of the game. On top of saving, you’ll also have more experience to add to your application and resumes, you’ll figure out what you are passionate about and you’ll be better prepared for life after college.

Learn to balance school and work through a work study program

Did you know that the federal government has a work-study program? Over 3,000 institutions participate in this program, which offers students opportunities to work part time while attending college. Students can be employed by a variety of places, including the institution where they are studying, a private nonprofit or for-profit organization or even a local, state or federal public agency.

The institutions participating in the program must save at least 7% of their work-study positions for students working in community service jobs, positions such as tutors in local schools, working in family literacy activities or even emergency preparedness and response.

Filling out your FAFSA is the first step towards applying for this program. You’ll want to ceck with your school’s financial aid office to see if they participate as well.

Find a sponsor

European university students often have private sponsors fund their education. There are a few companies in the U.S. who are shifting focus from scholarships to sponsorship, or education investments.

Education investments work like this: The student agrees to pay a percentage of their income for 10 years after graduation in exchange for funding. Usually the rates are under half a percent per $1,000 “invested,” and they vary based on the college, field of study and grades. This shift in risk from the student to the investor was well received, but it hasn’t quite caught on.

Lumni Inc, began their program in Chile in 2002 and expanded it to include Columbia, Mexico and then the United States in 2011. Enzi launched their pilot program at Stanford in 2010. This idea hasn’t yet changed the way students are funding their education. But who’s to say developing a plan and proposing it to a business or organization wouldn’t work?

Paying for college is one of the biggest hurdles you’ll face in your educational pursuits. Don’t let this slow you down! Creativity is key here, so use all the options available to you.

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