Thursday, September 04, 2014

How to Successfully Pay for College

September is College Savings Month. For many students college is a dream deferred due to the high price tag of college tuition. College expenses can include: tuition, fees, room/board, books, supplies, transportation, food, clothing, personal expenses, etc. College tuition rates increase at twice the rate of inflation. The first two years of college are the most expensive. A four-year college education can cost over $120,000.

According to the Federal Reserve, college graduates earn 66% or $830,000 more than high school graduates over their career. Unfortunately, the high price tag prevents many students from attending college or dropping out prior to graduation. In addition, the unemployment rate for high school graduates is more than three times that of college graduates. The key to paying for college is determining who will pay tuition – you, your parents or relatives.  Even just contributing $50 every month for 18 years would result in $23,482.  Use these 21 helpful tips to pay for college without going broke.


  1. Don’t wait until the last minute. If your parents can’t pay for you to go to college then you have to develop a plan.
  2. Plan for college costs early. If you will have to pay for college yourself get a part-time job as soon as you are old enough to work and put at least 50% of the money in a high interest savings account. 
  3. Read books on how to apply and get scholarships.
  4. Talk to your parents, school counselor and current college students who received scholarships and ask for pointers on obtaining scholarships.
  5. Attend a college that offers free tuition.


  1. Use money from birthdays, graduations, special events and Christmas and put into a high interest savings account.
  2. Work every summer while in high school and college. Apply for internships. Save at least 50% of your money to help defray college costs.
  3. Use 529 plans. Using matching contribution plans provides even more funding for college.

Financial Aid

  1. Apply for financial aid using the FAFSA and other resources. 
  2. Apply for at least 50-100 college scholarships, for every 10 you apply for you will receive one.
  3. Join the ROTC to earn scholarships and stipends for college.
  4. Enroll in the military and use the GI Bill.
  5. Contact the school’s financial aid office and get to know your financial aid counselor.

Take a Different Route

  1. Use college co-ops, fellowships or work-study to pay for college.
  2. Take classes in high school to earn college credit.
  3. Attend college as a part-time student.
  4. Work full-time and use company tuition benefits to pay for all or a portion of your college tuition.
  5. Use crowdfunding sites such as,, gofundme,,,,,,, to pay tuition.

Scale Back

  1. It is nice to attend an Ivy League school but the tuition will cost you. Choose an affordable college.
  2. Consider attending a less expensive school or attend a 2 year college then transfer to a 4 year university.
  3. Avoid eating out every day. Create a budget to track spending and reduce expenses.
  4. Avoid using credit cards for every day purchases. Use credit cards for emergencies only.

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