Paying for College

Everyone pays for college differently depending on their personal circumstances. Luckily, there are many financial strategies that help pay for college. These resources will walk you through them all, covering methods like investing in a college savings account or taking on student loans.

Your Guide to Paying for College

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How to Pay for College on Your Own
Frequently Asked Questions
  • How do you pay for college if you can’t afford it?

    The most common way to pay for college when you cannot afford to pay for the entire cost of it is to apply for financial aid. In the form of grants, work-study, loans, and scholarships, financial aid can help make college or career school more affordable. These funds come from both the federal government, as well as your state, school, and private sources like nonprofit organizations. Most people are eligible for some form of financial aid from their chosen school, so it is worth it to fill out the FAFSA upon applying for college. Aside from aid, you may want to consider making a budget when arriving at school, choose a school that is less expensive, or getting a part-time job while on campus to help pay for college.

  • Does the military pay for college?

    There are many financial benefits that come from being a member of the military. The U.S. Department of Defense’s Military Tuition Assistance program specifically gives active-duty, National Guard, and Reserve Component service members the chance to pursue higher education in their off-duty time. Eligible individuals can receive funds up to 100% of tuition and college-related fees. There are also service academies, such as West Point or the Naval Academy, that allow free attendance in return for commitment to service. However, these institutions are incredibly difficult to get into. Another option is joining a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program, available at most campuses across the country thanks to the Air Force, Army, and Navy. ROTC programs offer college scholarships to eligible students who apply in high school (or apply while enrolled in college) for up to four years. 

  • What are student loans?

    If you apply for financial aid, you may be offered loans as part of the college or university’s financial aid offer. A student loan is money you borrow that must be paid back with interest that helps you pay for the costs associated with college, including tuition and room and board. There are many types of loans that have varying terms and conditions. The two general categories of student loans are federal, which are paid by the federal government, and private, which are sourced from banks, financial institutions, or other organizations. Generally, loans made by the federal government are considered to have more benefits than loans from banks or other private sources.

  • How do you pay for college without taking out student loans?

    If you do not wish to take out a student loan, there are several other financial aid options you can consider. The first step is to fill out the FAFSA, which will make you eligible for financial aid to cover school expenses. Applying to scholarships can be a great way to receive some merit-based funding that does not have to be repaid. In addition to regularly researching and applying for scholarships, consider asking your college or university’s financial aid office about school-specific or department scholarships. Other ideas that may help with the cost of college include finding part-time work while on campus or setting up a payment plan.

Key Terms

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