5 Creative Ways to Pay for College

Today’s cost of education doesn’t stop at tuition; it’s all the extra costs that can start to add up. These include the cost of housing, meals, textbooks and, of course, that extra spending money your child needs in order to attend social events and treat themselves to pizza or a movie night. With that said, even if you haven’t saved much, the money that you need to finance your child’s education is within reach.

While loans may seem like the best option for your family, it’s not the only option. In fact, there are a number of creative and free ways you can help your child pay for their education. Without further ado, here are:

5 Creative Ways to Pay for College Without Taking on More Loans

Utilize the Right Resources

When you are starting to plan out the financial logistics of your child’s education, consider using resources like their high school school counselor or the financial aid officer at the college your child plans to attend. Both the school counselor and financial aid officer can offer resources and tips for finding low-interest loans, scholarships and more. Best of all, they will take your financial situation into consideration and work to find the best fit for you and your family.

Apply for National Grants

Grants are a desirable option for families who want to avoid taking out a number of different loans. If you aren’t already familiar with national grants, they are, in essence, a form of financial aid that you aren’t required to repay. If you’re interested in obtaining a national grant or scholarship to support the cost of your child’s education, then the best place to start is with the college’s student financial services center. Below you’ll find detailed instructions from the University of Vermont’s Student Financial Services web page so you can start applying for grants today:

  1. Complete the FAFSA and supply any supplemental information requested by www.fafsa.gov before the priority financial aid deadline.
  2. Vermont residents should submit a state grant application online at www.vsac.org.
  3. Students from other states should consult their state higher education agency to learn about and apply for state grant opportunities.

Keep in mind that first time, first year applicants who demonstrate financial need, academic merit and a commitment to social justice and/or to diversity, and who submit their FAFSA prior to the priority financial aid deadline, may be considered for the UVM Henderson Grant. Eligibility for the Henderson Grant is based on financial need and will be indicated in your UVM financial aid award. For more information on national grants, visit one of the sites listed below:

Apply for Scholarships

Scholarships are intended to recognize a student’s merit and reward them for their hard work; unfortunately, they are not awarded without some effort on your and your child’s part. Some scholarship applications require your child to put some thought towards why they are a deserving candidate, in addition to an interview or a college application style essay. However, some colleges, like the University of Vermont, consider all prospective, first-time and undergraduate applications automatically, without a separate application.

In addition to college awarded scholarships, parents and prospective students can access scholarships through their employer, private companies, nonprofit organizations and the local community.

Work-Study Programs

A great way to earn extra money and make new friends on campus is through a work-study program. Many work-study programs are available right on campus and there are a number of different positions that will likely align with your child’s interests and major. So, if your child is interested in english, they could have the option of working in the tutoring center as an on-campus editor. The other benefits of acquiring a work-study job is that they will pay your child at least minimum wage and you can choose to either have them pay your child directly, or for it to automatically deduct from their tuition cost and fees.

Quick tip: when you’re filling out your FAFSA, simply check the box on the application that asks if your child is interested in student employment.

Shop Smart and Start Saving Today

First things first, set a budget for you and for your child; if you’re saving for college, it’s wise to only buy what your child needs and not what they want – and save those higher-priced items for a celebration or holiday and focus on putting your money towards textbooks and meals. If your child is concerned about missing out on social events, they will have plenty of opportunities to take advantage of campus sponsored activities. The University offers a number of different fun and affordable activities that are either free or discounted with a valid student ID.

College can be expensive; however, there are a number of creative ways to pay for college – just start doing your research as early as possible! The best place to start is always with a little guidance. We previously mentioned your child’s school counselor and the college’s financial services, but don’t forget to ask your friends and family for advice too – they may have previous experience that you can start using today.