The recession has forced Americans to change the way they live, but it should not prevent an individual from attending college. With a tight job market and unemployment rates continuing to stay high, a college degree could give you the edge you need over the competition. The following tips will allow you to complete your higher education without going broke.
Fill Out the FAFSA
For those who do not know much about the FAFSA, it is the form students must fill out in order to receive federal aid. This form asks you for information from your taxes, so be sure to file as early in the year as possible. Most schools prefer that you submit your FAFSA before March so that they can put a strong financial aid package together for you.
Depending on your income, parent’s income and the cost of your education, the government will give you a set amount of money for college. The information on your FAFSA will also allow your school to see if you are eligible for any grants they may have. Most students receive some type of aid from the FAFSA, so be sure to fill it out!
Get a Job
College students have several employment opportunities available to them both on and off campus. Not only will you earn some cash for school, but you will also gain experience in the workforce. Yes, focusing on your coursework is important, but your education is only half of the puzzle when it comes to getting a job. Employers like to see candidates with real world experience. If you have the opportunity, apply for a paid internship in your field of study. Use the work experience to spice up your resume, and then use your paycheck to pay for some of your college expenses.
Consider Community College
More and more students are discovering the benefits of going to community college for two years. Not only is it thousands of dollars cheaper than universities, it is also a great opportunity to find out what you really want to study. Students often find themselves changing majors one or more times once they get into college. Community colleges allow you to explore different subjects without the big bill.
Take a CLEP Exam
CLEP exams allow you to receive college credit through an exam. Before you sign up for the test, be sure to check with your school to see if they accept the credit. If you achieve a high enough grade on the CLEP exam, most schools will offer you three semester hours of college work. More information regarding these exams can be found at www.collegeboard.com.
Apply for Scholarships
There are several websites that offer free scholarships searches. Most of these sites ask you to fill out a profile based on your interests and basic information. After this, a list of available scholarships will be shown to you. Be prepared to write an essay or provide letters of recommendation to qualify for the awards. Remember, you should never have to pay to apply for a scholarship. If you are uncertain about what to look for when it comes to scholarship scams, check out the following information: http://www.finaid.org/scholars hips/scams.phtml.
Little changes in your daily life can save you a lot of money if you budget wisely. If you eat out often, try cutting back. Make a list when you go to the grocery store so that you do not overspend on items that are not essential. You will find that you can save hundreds of dollars each year by eating at home instead of going to a restaurant.
If you need to buy clothes, consider shopping at a secondhand store. These stores carry items that are gently used, or brand new, for less than half the cost of the original price. These stores are often found close to colleges, so be sure to check your area for locations!
Buy Used Books
Everyone knows that college textbooks carry a hefty bill. You will find that one course could require you to spend over $100 on one book. In order to reduce your expenses, consider buying your books online, or buy a used copy from the bookstore. This will cut your book costs in about half each semester. Also, be sure to sell your books at the end of the semester. You can use whatever profits you make to buy school supplies or some books for next semester.
Take Summer Classes
Colleges and universities offer regular courses for a reduced price during the summer term. The tuition drops by a few hundred for each three-hour course, so you could easily save a few thousand dollars by taking summer courses each year. Not only will you save some money on tuition, but you could also graduate early and get into the workforce sooner!
With these tips, you should be able to finance your college education without drowning in debt. Remember, keep track of your finances, budget wisely and do the best you can in school!