How to Finance College with Less Stress

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You thought you could handle working and going to college, but the bills are piling up and you suddenly feel like you’re suffocating in a sea of debt!  You’re worried that by the time you graduate, you may owe some financial institution your first-born child.  You’re beginning to wonder if all of this is really worth it.  What you may not know is that there are all sorts of options to save money while you’re in school and can also find a way to finance college without stressing too much than you could imagine.

Planning for tuition costs
The first thing to consider, if you have not yet started school, is attending a community college to complete your general education.  Let’s face it, GE is pretty much the same no matter where you go.  And this way, you can find a school that’s close to home (so you don’t have to pay for dorms or rent an apartment), and the cost is only a fraction of what you would pay at other colleges or universities for the same fare.  

Best of all, if you manage to score a good GPA in community college, it can drastically raise your chances of getting accepted into the school of your choice, as well as earning a scholarship (which, remember, will only be for two years, unlike most applicants, who are seeking a 4-year scholarship).  This also gives you two extra years to look for the university and/or program that fits with your career goals.  

There’s nothing worse than spending two years at a pricey school only to realize that they only offer courses in theory rather than the practical program you really wanted.  In terms of getting help paying for school, the first thing you should do is apply for federal financial aid (fafsa).  Your allotments are generally based on your parents’ taxes, but if you are emancipated or over the age of twenty-five, you can file on your own behalf and probably get more money.  Every student may not qualify for financial aid and grants depending on the eligibility process.

There are also a million and one ways to get grants for education.  Start with the ones offered at your school, but be aware that the competition for these can be colossal (as are the chances of receiving them if you don’t have a killer essay or a recommendation from someone on the board).  Instead, try looking on websites that offer scholarships for essays or other creative entries.  They allow you to customize searches so you can find categories that play to your strengths and interests.  Prizes can range from $50 to $50,000, and every little bit helps.

As a last resort, consider applying for student loans.  This will allow you to work less and focus on your studies, with the added advantage that you often don’t have to start paying them back until you graduate and even then, they tend to carry a lower interest rate than other types of loans.  If you’re feeling stressed about money, student loans can be a good way to reduce the pressure and finance college with less stress, at least for now.

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