The process of obtaining higher education in the United States is usually associated with significant financial costs. But with the right approach, you will be able to enroll in the desired college without serious financial costs. We tell you how to do it.
How to get financial support
- Assess your financial needs. If you think your family will not be able to pay for college tuition, it is possible that some colleges will agree to do so. Financial Assistance is a calculation of the data that is contained in the FAFSA (Federal Financial Assistance Ordinance). This includes your family’s income, the number of children, especially those aged for college, your parent’s contributions or assets. These factors are taken into account to determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is how much your family can afford to pay for college. Using the FAFSA4caster calculator, you can calculate the rate of this contribution.
- Complete the form on the FAFSA website. This is an application for federal student aid. Fill out this form and send it to each educational institution on time. This does not mean that you have chosen this particular college and agree with everything. You just show interest and find out the cost of training. This is a fairly standard procedure.
- Submit tax and other documentation. Each institution has its own application review process, so check what documents are needed to review your application and when they need to be submitted at each specific college. Most educational institutions require copies of tax accounting documents, but they may ask for other papers as well. The process for considering applications for financial assistance may be different for transferred or international students.
- Consider all the proposals and make a choice. If you have been accepted into multiple colleges, chances are they sent you different offers of financial support. You should not immediately rush to large sums. Better compare their offers with the cost of training. Many schools are willing to match their competitors’ offerings, so talk with college staff to see if you can get a better deal.
- During your studies, keep your right to the scholarship. Submit updated FAFSA filings and tax forms annually. Make sure the college financial aid department is aware of changes in your financial situation and be careful with deadlines. The institution may even offer you more money if you get good grades and show your potential. Sometimes there are “leftovers” from scholarships that you can get hold of if you demonstrate good academic performance.
How to cover expenses
- Apply for a grant or loan. In addition to scholarships and necessary financial assistance, you can also apply for grants or loans. You do not need to return money for grants. They are issued for training, research and other needs. The loans will have to be repaid. You can apply for a traditional student loan, a payday loan or an installment loan. If you are looking for fast cash and are simply lost in numerous offers, you can visit online portals that review different US lenders, underline their advantages and disadvantages, gather opinions of the previous borrowers on one online platform. For instance, the Spotloan review draws a conclusion that a loan from Spotloan could be a good option rather than applying for a regular payday loan. However, they warn us that APRs can be high. You can read other lenders’ reviews written by unbiased financial experts to select the right loan company for your needs.
- Live at home. By living at home, you can easily save hundreds of dollars. Also, don’t forget about the money you save on food. Living in dorms is expensive and can lead to poor grades.
- Buy used textbooks online. You should not take new textbooks from bookstores, it is better to buy supported ones on the Internet. They are much cheaper and are in no way inferior to new ones. Now textbooks can even be rented. A quick search on the Internet will lead you to dozens of sites where you can find everything you need at a very competitive price.
- CLEP and PEP programs. Review your institution’s policies for the Advanced Placement Program (APP), College-Level Examination Program (CLEP), and Provenience Examination Program (PEP). Each educational institution has its own policy regarding these programs. Talk to your supervisor about your prospects. How will this help you? The fact that you can finish your studies a semester earlier, which will save you a lot of money.
- “Learn and Work” program. Once you become a student, you will be able to apply for the Learn and Work program, where some students are offered jobs at the university. If you qualify for this program, you will be notified. You will then be sent a link where you can view all vacancies and apply. Quite often, the competition here is much less than among vacancies outside the university.
- Consider joining the military. You will have to take the ASVAB test, a unified set of general development and training requirements for those entering the military. This test is taken before being enrolled in the troops. Most often, high school students pass it, but in general anyone can take it. Different types of troops require different test results. Generally, holders of a GED (Diploma Equivalent to High School Diploma) are required to have a higher score than holders of school certificates. Then you can contact a recruiter and enlist in the army. Why is this appropriate here? Soldiers are entitled to about $4,500 in financial training assistance during their service, and military universities and online universities offer online training programs tailored to the service schedule. What’s more, after graduation, you can go to college for free. Under the current Law on the Rights of the Military Personnel, 100% of the tuition fees for a public college and $19,198 for a private college are covered by the government.
How to get a scholarship
- Apply for a scholarship. Colleges usually offer grants or part-time scholarships. Look for programs or scholarships elsewhere to help with the remaining amount. This will help you cover the remaining tuition fees. Apply for all scholarships to cut your tuition costs.
- Get an athletic scholarship. Athletic scholarships are highly competitive and are awarded only to the best athletes in a region or state. If you are not the best player on your team, it will be difficult enough for you to get an athletic scholarship. Train and work hard to be successful in your sport. While an athletic scholarship will help you get the best education for free, there is a price to pay. You will have to spend more than 20 hours a week playing sports, which can take you away from your studies. These scholarships are awarded every year. You can be deprived of it if the coach decides that you are not needed by the team and do not deserve funding.
- ROTC scholarship (non-military training of reserve officers). The ROTC provides scholarships for those wishing to join the army. In most non-military reserve officer training programs, you will need to serve for 4 years, and after that stay for another 4 years in the first-line volunteer reserve, from where you can be called up again. In certain cases, this commitment may be longer or shorter. The ROTC program operates in over 1000 colleges and universities across the country. Select an educational institution, apply and wait for an invitation.
- Apply for other unique scholarships. Do you have an unusual hobby? Or are you a member of a minority group or have a military background? Are you a first-generation college student? What talents and interests do you have? Write down whatever comes to your mind and mark what might help you get the scholarship. There are many scholarships that you can qualify for.
Use reputable sites like CollegeScholarships.org, FastWeb, or Scholarships.com to find information on available scholarships. Find everything related to such scholarships and see which one you can apply for, or consider ones that match your background and interests.
Find a cheaper alternative
- Community colleges. For many people, going to college is associated with going to a public or private university. In fact, there are many more options out there, like a community college. It is worth noting that the cost of studying at a community college is several times cheaper.
- Vocational schools. Nowadays, having a bachelor’s degree in a particular field is no longer of great importance. Many college graduates go into the catering industry. You don’t have to go to a good university to get an education and make good money; vocational schools are also suitable for this.
- Consider distance learning. You don’t have to devote all your time and money to face-to-face training. Choose just a few activities that you can afford and devote the rest of the time to work. Each institution provides a different degree of distance learning. You can attend part of the classes or choose only one. You decide. Learn about classes taught by part-time teachers. Part-time teachers are paid less and therefore also cost less to attend.
- Online training. While most online schools are pretty ludicrous, there are some pretty serious ones as well. They cost less and will also save you money on moving. Moreover, you can attend classes at any time, so you can easily combine them with work. After such training, you may well move on to full-time training in a regular college, since most of the grades can be transferred.
- Learn all about MOOCs. MOOC, a massively open online course, is gaining popularity in technology and education. Some of them can be enrolled according to tests and a certificate, but not all. This is a course that was recorded on video or audio at the university and posted online. For example, take a look at Harvard or MIT websites. You can browse through their courses and launch the one that interests you. There are also sites like Coursera that partner with dozens of educational institutions to provide a varied and consistent curriculum.
- Joint Education Program. With this learning method, you spend one semester full-time and the second full-time. This program is not based on financial assistance and is offered only in some institutions. If such a program is offered at a college you are interested in, you should try it. It will also allow you to gain experience in your chosen field. You earn and add to your resume at the same time.
- Classroom lessons. Find local universities or community colleges and see their policies regarding attending a course as a free listener. Some institutions allow anyone to attend classroom classes, while in other institutions only full-time students are allowed. Find a school that allows you to attend classroom sessions. You will need to consult with the secretary or other school officials on this matter.