Overlooked Ways to Pay For School
Going back to school can be an extremely exciting time. Getting back into the books and having the opportunity to advance or shift your career can completely change your life trajectory. However, while the idea of going back may be a pleasant one, opening up your wallet to pay for tuition is a less welcome one. Here are several overlooked ways to pay for school so that you can feel better about going back and still have more financial control of your situation.
Ask For More Money
When you are accepted, ask for more money! This is one of the lesser-known secrets that colleges won’t ever bring up and scholarship sites don’t mention, and there’s a reason for that. Sometimes, after receiving a letter of acceptance, you can ask the college financial aid for more money. Of course, you will want to ask with an eloquent explanation of your situation and with class. Once you emphasize your need and situation, you may just end up getting a financial package greater than the one that came with your acceptance letter. Colleges will never tell you this since they want to keep their current financial aid packages at what they are at, and scholarship sites often receive some benefit for being used, so you will usually never see these two resources point you towards asking for more money.
Unlike loans, grants don’t have to be paid back. This is money “gifted” to you and should be used only for school expenses. Make sure to find out all the resources on where you can get grants. Sometimes the government gives out grants depending on what type of degree you are getting. Other times, the college might give you a grant directly, packaged in with your loans and other types of financial aid. As with the previous step, make sure to ask around to see what is available to you. Most people think that the offer letter is the be-all-end-all scenario for them and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Some colleges even have emergency grants for those found in unique circumstances.
Merit and Situation-Based Scholarships
Sometimes, students receive a healthy financial aid package and they don’t have to do any additional financial aid searching. However, these types of situations are in the minority. If possible, look to scholarship search sites for specific scholarships that tailor to your situation. There are a good number of them out there that people don’t know about. Some include scholarships for online students, for expecting mothers, for single mothers, for students going back to school after time away since high school, for single fathers, for minorities, etc. These types of scholarships give you a much better chance at receiving help as they filter for people with your exact needs. It also makes the pool a lot smaller if you’re competing only against people in your situation than every other student that went to college ever that year.
As with any investment that requires a lot of funding, make sure to plan far ahead for your school year and goals. If you know you’re accepted and school doesn’t start for another 8 months, do everything within those eight months to make sure you are financially prepared for when the first day rolls around. There are more scholarships, time to bargain financial aid, and grant opportunities 8 months before school starts than 1 month before. If you are already in school and looking to pay down the debt that is left over, check out our tips to aggressively tackle student debt!