8 ways to pay for college

By Bella King
06/01/2017
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Good news! You got into your dream school. Not so good news. It’s too expensive, even after financial aid. Don't despair! There are a bunch of other ways to pay for college.

1. Get college credits in high school

The more college credits you can rack up in high school, the sooner you can graduate from college and the less you'll need to pay for it. Programs like concurrent enrollment, AP courses, and IB classes can help you get college credit in high school, and may even qualify you for academic grants and scholarships.

2. Scholarships

Scholarships should always be your first resort when looking for ways to pay for college. Make sure you’ve applied for every possible local and national scholarship and keep applying for as many scholarships as you can every month you’re in high school and college. Read our articles for new scholarships and tips, visit Our Scholarships for a new Unigo scholarship every month, and use our Scholarship Match to find the right scholarships for you. Check with your college’s financial aid department for any additional scholarships, or other aid, they may have.

3. Do your first year or two at community college

Here’s a secret. Almost all freshman and sophomore classes at four-year colleges are introductory. They’re often large classes taught by professors who don’t know your name, or small classes taught by inexperienced grad students. You can take the same courses at your local community college for a fraction of the cost AND they’ll likely be smaller classes taught by experienced teachers! And since community colleges are usually less competitive, it may be easier to snag the best grades. Just check with your school first to see which credits will and won’t transfer.

4. Live at home or off campus

Some of the biggest college expenses are the cost of dorms and campus meal plans. You can save a ton of money if you live with your parents for all or part of your college career (BONUS: free laundry!). If your college is out of town, you may be able to save money by getting an off-campus apartment or house share. Contact your college for off-campus housing resources, and try Craigslist to get an idea of how much local rentals cost.

5. Pursue a career that pays for school

Certain careers, such as nursing, teaching, the armed forces, or public service will pay for all or part of your education. Here are 10 jobs that help you pay for college.

6. Get a job

Get a summer job before school and, if necessary, a part-time job while you’re in school. Ask advisers at your school about part-time jobs near campus, and how many hours a student can reasonably work. Still short? Ask your school if you can defer enrollment and work for a year to earn the extra money. If that’s not possible, consider taking a year off after enrolling (after sophomore year, for example).

7. Loans

If financial aid, scholarships, and part-time jobs aren’t enough to cover your college expenses, it’s time to consider student loans. Find out how much student loans you can afford, then use our LoanFinder to find the right student loan for you.

8. Change your major

Maybe folks in your chosen major don’t earn enough to justify taking out the big loan needed for your school. Find out how much typical graduates in your major earn. If that’s not enough to justify the cost of school, consider a higher-paying major. Maybe there’s another field you like as much (or more!) that leads to higher earnings, making that loan a smart move.

If all else fails, don’t freak out. College is what you make it. If you’re motivated and have a good attitude, you can be happy and successful anywhere.

Looking for your dream school? Use our College Match to find a school that meets all your needs.

About the author

Bella KingBella is our 2016 All About Education Scholarship winner. She is a songwriting major and music business/legal studies double minor at Belmont University. In her free time, she enjoys writing and listening to music, playing volleyball, and catching up on her favorite TV shows on Netflix.

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