Nearly 60 percent of college students are worried about having enough money to pay for school, according to a national survey from Ohio State University. While there are many different types of financial aid that can help you reduce the cost of your education, it can all be overwhelming if you don’t know where to start.
The good news is that paying for college is possible, and we’re here to help. Check out this guide for eight ways to manage your college costs.
1. Fill out the FAFSA
As soon as you have decided to further your education, you should start the financial aid process by creating your FSAID and then begin filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form.
Most people are eligible for federal financial aid, but your level of financial need will determine the amount of aid you get. Many factors, such as the size of your family and your year in school, determine your financial need.
Don’t worry if financial aid does not cover the full cost of your tuition. There are several other steps you can take to reduce your costs. Which brings us to our next point…
2. Apply for scholarships
Unlike federal student loans, scholarships do not have to be repaid. They are essentially “free money” and can be awarded to students based on a variety of criteria, such as academic or athletic achievements, or community service. Many students continue to search and apply for scholarships throughout their undergraduate and graduate education.
Your college or university is often the best place to start your scholarship search. You can also find additional scholarship opportunities through your employer, community organizations or online.
Remember, you should never have to pay to apply for a scholarship. Herzing University partners with Scholly to provide students free access to a secure scholarship database where you do not have to worry about scams. Be sure to check out our tips for finding the perfect scholarship before you start your search.
3. Research federal and state grant programs
While scholarships are usually merit-based, grants are need-based. They also serve as “free money” toward your college education. You can apply for both federal and state grants. The Pell Grant, for example, is a well-known federal grant program for undergraduate students.
Your college or university might also offer special grant programs, such as a Military Appreciation Grant. Talk with a representative from your school’s financial aid department to find out which opportunities might work best for you.
4. Work part-time to pay part of your costs
A growing number of students choose to work while they are in school to offset the cost of their education. Schools that offer flexible course schedules, night classes and online course options make it easier for students to find a balance between work and advancing their education.
Many colleges and universities also offer part-time student employment opportunities through a Federal Work-Study Program, which includes both on-campus positions and community service positions. Federal Work-Study is available for both part-time and full-time students. For more information about Federal Work-Study at Herzing University, talk with our Financial Aid Department.
5. Take advantage of employer-provided educational benefits
Your employer might also offer tuition assistance, such as tuition reduction scholarships, enrollment fee waivers, complimentary credit evaluations and direct access to college/university contacts. If you have questions about whether your employer offers these educational benefits, talk to your supervisor or someone from your human resources department.
By offering educational incentives, organizations can ensure that their employees are prepared to meet the workforce demands of the future. If you’re going back to school for an advanced degree, such as an MBA or an MSN, make sure you explore this option.
6. Choose a transfer-friendly university
Look for a college or university that understands the value of your prior skills and knowledge and offers multiple degree pathways depending on your academic and professional experience. These institutions will work to maximize the transferability of your prior credits and work experience so that you can save time and money on your degree.
Herzing University provides several different options for students who want to maximize their transfer credits, including a flexible transfer policy, proficiency test-out exams, prior learning assessments, and standardized Advanced Placement testing. For example, students can also take advantage of Herzing’s DEGREE UP program, which offers a more affordable and flexible path to a bachelor’s degree.
7. Make it a goal to graduate on time
By staying on top of your coursework and dedicating yourself to your studies, you can ensure that you don’t have to retake classes and spend unplanned time and money on your education. Schools like Herzing can even help you finish quicker – maybe in three years instead of four – allowing you to enter the workforce and start earning sooner.
Sometimes, however, circumstances are out of your control and you might find that you need to take a break from school. In those instances, it’s important to talk with your advisor about the challenges you’re facing and what your options are. They can help make it easier for you to get back on track or pick up right where you left off.
8. Consider dual-credit or accelerated programs
If you know that you want to earn an advanced degree, such as an MBA, consider dual-credit programs that allow you to work toward a graduate degree while you are enrolled as an undergraduate. These programs can help save you time and money in advancing your education and your career.
It’s always a good idea to get to know the financial aid staff at the college you plan to attend. At Herzing University, an affordable education is within reach. We offer a variety of financial assistance options so you can make the decision to invest in your future.