BY MELISSA BURNS
Time in college is one of the most financially lopsided periods in one’s life. On the one hand, tuition and living expenses these days are higher than ever. On the other hand, most students do not have the ready money to pay them off. It means that in order to have the education you want, you are most likely going to need a substantial infusion of cash.
Usually, when people think about ways of financing one’s college education, they default to student loans. However, they are not always available or useful: you may not be eligible for a variety of reasons or may have already taken a loan and run out of money. What to do in such a situation? Let’s take a look at a few alternatives.
Grants are desirable because they provide what is essentially free money – you do not have to repay them after you receive your education. Many think that grants only exist for special cases, and it is impossible for them to get them – well, they are wrong. There are dozens upon dozens of grants waiting for applicants, and everybody is eligible for at least a few of them. Study the directory and make it your business to apply for as many of them as possible – at the very least, this gives you some chance of success, and you do not lose anything by trying.
2. Commercial loans
This variant is one of the first to suggest itself, but, just like student loans, it is not always available. Banks are ready to offer you a loan, but they would only agree to do it if you have a stable source of income and a good credit history – something most students cannot boast of. However, there are plenty of other organizations, like Quick Loans Direct, that vie for students’ attention. Many of them have much more liberal rules as to whom they are ready to give loans to, so be sure to check them out.
3. Private scholarships
All kinds of businesses, nonprofit organizations, and community groups offer thousands of private scholarships, and you are free to try them out. Either look for them on your own using resources like Scholly or contact a guidance counselor for suggestions about which scholarships may be the best fit for you.
4. Tax Credit
American Opportunity Tax Credit allows you to decrease the sum total of your taxes after you pay for tuition, textbooks, living accommodation and so on. The amount is up to $2,500 per year – it may not sound like much when compared to the total cost of tuition, but every little bit helps.
5. Ask your college for more money
Many students do not realize that the amount of financial aid they get from college is subject to negotiation and change. Taking them at face value can easily close you the way to the college of your dreams – but it does not have to be this way. Write a formal letter of appeal to your college and follow it with a phone call detailing your situation. If you can provide persuasive proof that you are a good fit for the college in question, there is a perfect chance that they will reconsider the amount of aid you get, and you will be able to afford the education you deserve.
Financing one’s way through college is never easy, and with tuition costs these days, it can turn into one of the most significant challenges of one’s life. However, there are many opportunities for those who are ready to look for them actively – so make sure you do so!
Melissa Burns graduated from the faculty of Journalism of Iowa State University. Nowadays she is an entrepreneur and independent journalist.