How to Make College More Affordable
Before you get excited about and committed to going to a specific college, make sure that you explore the variety of options that are available for a college education, such as:
- Public vs. Private - Is it really necessary to go to a private school versus a public one? Make sure you weigh all the benefits of a private education vs. a public education and decide whether the cost is worth the benefits.
- In-State vs. Out-of-State - If you do go to a public university, be sure to consider the ones in your own state. Not only will you qualify for a reduced in-state tuition, but you may even be able to live at home and save on room & board expenses.
- Community College - To save some money, consider going to your local community college for the first two years to take your core classes. Make sure you have a plan for finishing on time and transferring your credits to your final graduation university. Will employers care where you spent your first two years or just the school where you graduated?
- Online Degree - Are there any online degrees available in your field of study? Make sure you would be comfortable with online classes and disciplined enough to complete your work in this type of environment.
Scholarships and Financial Aid
Scholarships are your best friend when it comes to affording college and can be found in a variety of areas:
- School-Specific Scholarships - Make sure you research any scholarships available for the schools you’re interested in (it’s best to start your junior year of high school). Most schools have a wide variety of academic, sports, and other scholarships available for incoming students. Make sure you apply to schools with plenty of time to compete for scholarships. The only reason that I was able to attend my private school was due to hefty academic and sports scholarships.
- State Scholarships - Many states offer scholarships to students who attend in-state public universities based on merit (like GPA, standardized test scores, community service). But, be sure to keep your grades up in college so you don’t lose your scholarship!
- Public Scholarships - There are many organizations in your local community that offer small one-time scholarships to college students. Research any opportunities available in your area, and it doesn’t hurt to ask any organization that you’re involved with if they offer any scholarships.
- Financial Aid - Be sure to apply for financial aid as early as you can. The best aid is grants and work/study programs where you don’t have to repay the money. But, there are also subsidized student loans available to help you pay for school.
Get a Job
Although the main focus of your college year should be getting an education, think about working a few hours to raise some extra funds for tuition, room/board, or even just some extra spending money. As an NCAA athlete, I wasn’t allowed to work during the school year. However, I worked full time every summer and Christmas break, I babysat for a variety of kids in the area, and I did a paid internship one semester.
Graduate in 4 Years
If you are attending school full time, make sure that you’re on track to graduate in four years. An extra year of tuition can cause your college costs to skyrocket.
Getting a college education can be expensive, but it is possible to help make it more affordable.