Paying for college is not a small expense but there are some things that you can do to minimize the sticker shock and make this investment in your future feel manageable and empowering. Knowing what your options are and making informed decisions will allow you the freedom to focus on your studies, and not just how to fund them. Keep in mind that a college degree is an investment in your future, and do not be scared off by the grand total numbers, realizing that this investment is not paid off ie pay for the rising costs of college in one lump sum can help you feel more comfortable taking that leap towards a higher education.
Take Out Student Loans
Getting financial assistance to pay for college is quite common and taking out a private student loan is an excellent option and can be used in a variety of ways. Some students will opt to apply for a loan that includes not just their base tuition, but also their additional collegiate expenses such as books, and room and board. Identify what you are comfortably capable of covering with your existing finances and what you need assistance with, and this will help you decide on a loan amount to apply for. When you apply, shop around, there are several different lender options and it is worth your time to research which is right for you. Some things to consider when picking which lender is right for you would be, interest rates, cosigner benefits, payment forgiveness periods, and discounts offered for things like auto pay.
Cheaper Class Alternatives
Your college education will not be exclusively made of up the core classes specific to the degree you are working towards. Many major universities require what are called prerequisites, or general studies credits before you are even qualified to take those upper level classes. For instance, you can pursue paralegal courses online that’ll enable you to become a valuable member of the legal fraternity. Having such a certification will allow you to pursue advanced legal courses that will enhance your career prospects. Learning about your university’s transfer guidelines and earning the credits at a community college will save you money. This would be a great time also to get familiar with your university’s student resources counselors, as they are a built-in option to help you identify which offsite colleges offer classes that meet the requirements of you school while costing you less per credit. Many of these off-site classes can be taken online, with a pass/fail grading structure, or even open entry/open exit style which gives you freedom of time and location to get the coursework completed.
Try Out a Side Hustle
College students often have nontraditional schedules which can make working while going to school difficult but that does not mean that you still cannot make money. Seasonal work is a great side hustle to explore when considering options for generating income. Landscaping, summer nanny jobs, various positions at golf courses or community pools, and retail jobs during the holiday season are all good places to start. The commitment level is low with a seasonal job because there are defined start and end dates and additionally seasonal work can also be sought out during breaks in between college semesters allowing you to not be forced to split your focus between school and work.