Best Ways to Plan College Funding

By Jonathan Bales , last updated October 12, 2011

The key to funding a college education is to start planning early. Paying for college is a nightmare for many students and families, as the cost of education has skyrocketed over the last few decades. College is necessary for more and more occupations, so there is not much of a choice for a lot of students. It is a lot easier to save up money over a 10-year period than in a year or two. Of course, beginning a college fund early is primarily the responsibility of a student's parents, but there are still plenty of things you can do to save up money for your college education as well. Ultimately, you simply want to take out as few loans as possible. Read on for a few of the best (and most practical) ways to save money for college.

The first step in planning a college fund is determining the type of school you want to attend. This will not be possible early on your education, but as you get into the later years of high school, start to think about which colleges interest you. There is a big difference in tuition between private colleges, public colleges, and community college, so knowing which option is best for you is a key to properly funding the education. While you want to attend a college you will enjoy, you might have to choose one that is more fiscally feasible if possible. Choosing an in-state college, for example, can be a lot cheaper than heading off far from home for college.

There is also a lot of money available for college students in the form of scholarships and grants. So many students do not do themselves justice when it comes to applying for scholarships. There is so much money available, so apply for as many scholarships as possible. Do not rush through them simply to create a large list, but complete as many scholarship applications as you can without sacrificing quality. Take the time to obtain letters of recommendation and write essays, and you will be rewarded in the end. The difference in applying for 10 scholarships and 100, for example, can be dramatic. If you are awarded with 10% of the scholarships for which you applied, this difference could equate to a year of college tuition, or more.

More and more students are taking a year off prior to starting college in order to save up money. If you have the luxury of living at home for a year prior to starting college, you might want to consider it. While this situation is not ideal, it is a fallback plan that can help fund your education. Just make sure you have every intention of starting college in a year, rather than falling into a routine and skipping it altogether. Ultimately, attending college, even if it means racking up debt, is superior to forgoing it.

Lastly, try to find a company that offers tuition reimbursement. You can get help finding these companies at your college, and if you already know the field in which you want to work, it should not be too difficult. If you have already started college and compiled some debt, this is a great way to get out of it.

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