5 creative ways to pay your college tuition
Current college students and those planning to enroll soon know that attending college is a serious financial investment. Unfortunately, most families have seen their family net worth decline over the last few years, making it more difficult to cover the rising cost of college tuition rates. In most cases, students rely on federal student loans and scholarships to help cover much of the costs. Those who still find the gap between their expected family contribution and financial aid to be too large often look for other methods to reduce the cost of college, including starting at a community college or taking fewer classes. Although these may be the more common methods for dealing with tuition problems, a few students have taken a decidedly unusual approach to paying their college fees. Here’s a look at five of the most creative ways students have paid their college tuition bills.
1. Use Rebates
Jonathan Hood is one smart cookie. He recently paid nearly all his tuition at Auburn University using rebate cards and checks. Jonathan got hooked on rebates nearly a decade ago during a Black Friday shopping trip with his father and has spent the last several years perfecting his method. For the last two years, he has used rebates to cover his entire cell phone bill, which typically runs about $95 a month. He typically searches for ‘free-after-rebate’ offers on websites like Fatwallet.com and Newegg.com and encourages students to follow the rebate guidelines to a tee; forgetting even one item can cause a rebate offer to be rejected.
2. Try Crowd Funding
Crowd funding is growing in popularity with college students. Students simply create an account, post their personal story and hope that generous strangers will contribute to their educational fund. There are a variety of websites students can use, including GreenNote.com, GoFundMe.com and newcomer, ScholarshipProz.com. Although students can create their accounts for free, most crowd funding sites charge a transaction fee between five and ten percent. Most students will not see the same results as Kelli Space, who has received over $10,000 in donations after hosting a blog and detailing her experiences in trying to pay back $20,000 in student loan debt, but every little bit helps.
3. Put on a Show
Students who have a talent, such as playing a musical instrument or painting, can use those skills to earn money for college. Those who are successful find a spot in a well-traveled area or near a local event that will attract many people in a short time span. Placing a sign, such as ‘Playing to Pay for College’ or ‘Broke Student, Please Help’ also seems to help increase donations. Those who aren’t comfortable about giving a street performance can also raise money offering their services for local parties, weddings, and other occasions. Even donning a clown suit can help pay for tuition, since the average clown brings in between $100 and $500 an hour.
4. Start a Business
College campuses are breeding grounds for new business ideas. Although most students won't come up with a billion dollar idea like Facebook, there are still plenty of ways to earn a buck by providing services to other students. Many students have made enough money to cover tuition and other fees by delivering food, offering to clean dorm rooms, renting out their cars, and providing other services on campus. One pair of creative students even came up with a cute slipper for those having to walk through crowded city streets.
5. Help Others
Students can earn good money and help others by participating in medical research trials or donating their eggs/sperm. John McKinley-Campbell, a graduate student from Rutgers University, has earned nearly $8,500 from two medical studies, but cautions students to do their research before agreeing to take any drugs. For those who have an aversion to taking unknown pills, there may be another way to pay for tuition without taking on a part-time job – fertility clinics. Sperm and egg donation has increased in popularity among college students, as it is more lucrative than a typical college job. Women can earn around $5,000 per donation, but men should expect to earn significantly less. Most sperm donors receive about $100 per donation, but those who donate several times a week may earn enough to help pay for books and other fees during the semester.
Although these creative methods may have helped some students fund their college education, they may not work for everyone. It’s important that students research their available aid options and look for other resources to help keep their student loan debt to a minimum. Did you pay for your tuition using an unconventional method? Be sure to share it with us here or on our Facebook page.