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5 Ways to Pay for College Tuition

You were accepted into the college of your dreams,…
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You were accepted into the college of your dreams, but you didn’t get a scholarship—so how can you pay? According to The College Board, the sticker price for tuition, room, and board at the average private college totaled $47,370 in 2016, but the average student only paid $26,080. Meanwhile, the sticker price at public colleges was $20,090, but the average in-state student paid $14,210.

Even if you didn’t get a scholarship, other forms of financial aid can help you cover the costs of or tuition, room, and board. From grants (which you’re not required to pay back) to loans (which you do), the financial aid system can seem intimidating. Here’s how to pay for college without a scholarship.


Colleges, states, and the federal government offer grants to students, which don’t require repayment. In most cases, grants are awarded based on a student’s financial need and determined by the income reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

In 2016, public college undergraduates received $5,000 in grant financial aid on average, while undergraduates at private colleges received $16,700. Schools typically award bigger grants than the state and federal government, as colleges consider how much they think you’ll be able to afford and try to fill the gap with grant aid.

If you receive a grant, it should be listed on the financial aid award letter you receive from your school. Sometimes, schools will mail financial aid award letters with acceptance letters, but in most cases, they’re sent later on.

Work-Study Jobs

Work-study jobs are part-time jobs near campus available for eligible students. Because student eligibility for work-study jobs depends on your financial situation and your school’s available funding, you need to submit the FAFSA to qualify.

Work-study jobs pay undergraduate students directly at least once per month. While undergraduates earn hourly wages, your college will restrict the amount you earn to your work-study award for the year. The amount will also be included in your financial aid award letter.

If you’re not eligible for a work-study job, looking for another part-time job can help you cover the costs of tuition, textbooks, and other fees. Finding a part-time job related to your degree can also help you earn valuable experience.

Ask for More Money

Most students don’t know that they can ask their school for more money. In fact, experts suggest writing a formal appeal letter and following up with a phone call to ask for school for additional financial assistance. In your formal appeal letter, be sure to emphasize why you’re a good fit for the college, and whether or not you received financial aid from a comparable college.

However, there’s no guarantee that your formal appeal letter will land you more financial aid. If you’re denied more money, ask your college about other tuition programs. For example, if you’re interested in medical programs, the Prism Career Institute offers tuition financing options for eligible students.

Apply for Private Scholarships

Between businesses, non-profit organizations, and local community groups, thousands of private scholarships are available for undergrad students. If you’re not sure where to start, use an online service to find and apply for scholarships or ask your high school guidance counselor for advice. Private scholarships can significantly reduce the amount you owe toward tuition, room, and board.

Take Out Loans

According to CNN, the average family uses loans to cover 20 percent of the cost of college. If scholarships, grants, and savings don’t cover the costs of tuition, room, board, and textbooks, consider borrowing money from the federal government. The federal government offers lower interest rates and more borrower protections for student loans than private lenders.

If you need to borrow more money than a federal student loan allows, it’s still possible to find low-interest rates among private lenders. It’s important to keep in mind that interest rates on personal loans typically depend on your credit history, so students may want to cosign with parents when applying. According to the loan experts at LendingBuilder, finding unbiased, informative content about personal loans, lender reviews, and loan comparisons can help students make a well-informed decision when taking out a personal loan. To learn more about personal loans and compare lenders, visit lendingbuilder.com.

Figuring out how to pay for college can be daunting, but understanding your options can help you make the best decisions for your financial situation.

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