9 Steps for Successful College Financing
Let’s face it: Figuring out how to pay for college can be overwhelming. The good news is that there are a lot of financing resources out there and many well-informed people willing to help you decide the best options for you. Here are nine critical sources of college financing that you should consider – in the order that you should investigate them.
First of all, keep in mind that no two people are alike and their financial situations are unique too. There is no single way to plan for your education. The secret is to check out as many potential ways to finance school as possible.
As a general rule, you want to investigate sources that do not require repayment first (like scholarships and grants) before you borrow money. That way you can leave school with as little debt as possible.
Nine potential financing resources:
1. Cash – How much can you and your family afford to put toward your education? To avoid debt in the future, it’s a good idea to pay for as much of it as you can up front. Are your parents able to contribute? Grandparent or relatives willing to chip in? Figure out what you can contribute so you know how much you will need to find in additional financing. Think of it as an investment that could pay you back for the rest of your life in better jobs and higher paychecks.
2. School Scholarships – Check with the schools you are applying to. Many offer some scholarships for students based on different criteria like what you plan to study or your grades in high school. Scholarships do not have to be repaid. Check out the scholarships available at DeVry University.
3. Outside Scholarships – There are hundreds of great scholarships out there just looking for students to help. Most scholarships are awarded based on specific criteria; for example, specific activities you participate in like sports or band, or whether you are part of a particular group such as children of firefighters or students from a specific town. Check out this great online tool that can help you find scholarships you might qualify for. Be sure to put in as much detail as possible to determine the scholarships that might be right for you.
4. Federal and State Grants – Grants are usually given out based on need. They do not have to be repaid. Applying for federal grants starts with completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to apply for federal financial aid. Individual states also offer grants to student residents.
5. Work-Study Programs – Many schools offer part-time jobs that can help you cover expenses. If you’re interested, ask the financial aid representative at the local campus where you are applying whether there are any work-study positions available.
6. Military Programs – If you are a veteran of the US military, there may be an army of programs available to you. The most well known is the GI bill which helps vets get their degree after active service. Other programs such as the Yellow Ribbon Program, which help returning GIs cover school expenses that may exceed the Post 9/11 GI Bill tuition benefit, are definitely worth exploring as well.
7. Employer Assistance – Many large companies offer some kind of tuition reimbursement program; some medium and small companies do, too. Be sure to check with your HR department. If your degree can help your company and your job performance, it could be a real win-win situation.
8 & 9. Federal or Private Loans – Once you have explored all the other avenues for financing, it might just take a loan to put you over the top. But if you’ve done your homework and investigated all these other financing options, you should be able to minimize the amount you borrow. Federal loans may be less expensive and have the most flexible repayment options, so it’s a good idea to explore your federal options before looking to private loans.
If you are considering DeVry University, feel free to contact a Student Finance Professional in the DeVry Student Finance office at your local campus or center. Online students can call 877-496-9050 to speak with an Online Student Finance Professional. He or she will be happy to walk you through these steps and help you build a personal, customized college financing plan that can get you on the road to graduation and career success!