College Funding Solutions

By Elizabeth Freeman , last updated December 22, 2011

p { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }Students that do not have the cash on hand to pay for college directly have a number of funding solutions. Depending upon their ability and financial need, college students can receive scholarships, grants, or loans. You may also work a part-time job to help pay for school.

Scholarships

Earning a scholarship is a great way to pay a portion, or even all, of your college tuition bill. Some schools give scholarships to incoming students automatically based on their GPAs or other skills. For example, a school with a basketball team may provide scholarship funding to excellent basketball players.

Applying for private scholarships is another way to solve your college funding problem. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to have a 4.0 GPA or a perfect SAT score to land a scholarship. A number of unusual scholarships exist. For example, you can win $3,000 for school by making a prom dress out of duct tape. Also, if you are left-handed or a vegetarian, you may be eligible for a scholarship.

Grants

Like a scholarship, a grant is free money for college. Usually, grants are given based upon your financial need rather than your ability to earn straight A's or make a dress out of tape. The Pell grant is awarded by the federal government to financially needy students. To apply, you will need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year. You may not receive the Pell grant one year, but you still may qualify the next if your financial situation changes.

Loans

You will need to pay back any loans you take out to fund your education. If you only borrow what you need and aim for federal loans only, repayment may not be much of a challenge. You'll be able to deduct the interest you pay on student loans from your income taxes. Before you take out a loan, especially a private loan, read the terms of the loan carefully. You want to know the amount of interest you will have to pay, how long the repayment will last, and when you will have to start paying after you finish school.

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