Don’t Rule Out College Because of Rising Tuition
December 7, 2017
It comes as no surprise that the cost of attending college has been increasing over the years, with many colleges and universities passing operating expenses on to students in the form of higher tuition. Obtaining a college degree is still a worthy investment that will pay off over time, so let’s look at some ways of making college more affordable.
If you qualify for a college’s programs, the admissions office will usually work with you to help you attend. Many schools are willing to come down from their “sticker price” and adjust tuition based on your family’s income.
Your first step in finding financial aid should be to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. The FAFSA is used to apply for federal student aid such as grants, student loans, and college work-study. Most states and colleges use FAFSA information to award their financial aid. Once you’ve completed the FAFSA, you’ll receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) from the US Department of Education. This report confirms the information you entered on the FAFSA so be sure it is accurate. The front page of the SAR will show your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This number is used by colleges and universities to determine the amount of your financial aid. Some colleges will also require the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE to determine outside sources of funding besides the federal government.
There are other ways of finding money for college without taking on a student loan. Unlike loans, grants don’t have to be paid back. Although a single grant won’t pay the entire cost of a year of college, it is possible to combine grants and reduce your expenses substantially. Look for campus-based aid or federal Pell Grants and determine if you meet the qualifications.
Another source of “gift money” can be college scholarships. There is a variety of scholarships offered and you may find that you can qualify for more than one. Check with organizations like unions, corporations, ethnicity-based organizations, civic groups like the Rotary and Lions Clubs, and churches to see if they have scholarships available.
Some associations offer scholarships to their members or their dependents. The Alliance for Affordable Services has a Scholarship Program that is available to eligible Alliance members and their legal dependents who are 16 to 28-year-old students. Renewing candidates who maintain a 3.5 grade point average are eligible to earn scholarships for an additional three consecutive years. For more details on this program, click here.