Who would like to graduate college without any loans? Truth is, I did. Surprising as it may be, I have no student loan payments. How did I do it? Keep reading to find out.
Apply for Everything
There are a lot of opportunities to save money on college. You can apply for virtually anything out there. Yes, there is a scholarship for doing bird calls. No, I can’t do any bird calls. Just because you can’t afford to pay your child’s tuition, doesn’t mean that they have to graduate with a huge amount of debt.
There are websites out there devoted to just this purpose. I had accounts on three different websites starting my Junior year of high school. When Senior year came around, I kicked it into overdrive and applied for several a week. I even received letters for scholarships I won that I didn’t remember applying for. That was how often I applied for scholarships. Here are the websites I used: Fastweb, Cappex, and Zinch (it turns out that the Zinch site doesn’t work anymore). Now, these are just the sites I used before I started college in 2010. There are several more out there now, so really you could find any of these with a simple Google search.
How to Use These Tools
Once you find the scholarship websites that will work for you and your child, you want to fill out the profile. This is where those bird calling skills will come in handy. You fill out the profile according to your child’s skills and achievements. Then, the website figures out which scholarships your child is eligible to apply for. It’s so easy! After that, you just follow the directions to apply for the scholarship.
According to Google a grant is:
“A sum of money given by an organization , especially a government, for a particular purpose.”
You will be filling out a FAFSA if you’re planning on sending your child to college. This is where the grants come in. I received several grants after submitting my FAFSA. These can be a bit more particular about whether or not you’re under a certain income line and they are specific to region. So, you don’t have as much of an opportunity to earn grants as you do scholarships (I don’t know all of the specific guidelines as they vary by state). But, it’s a great bump to further you from those student loans. Research the ones available in your state.
Get a Job
Now, college is something that you’ll want your child to focus on. However, I worked my entire way through school. Several times I actually held two jobs on top of my school work. Most colleges offer student jobs and they work very well with most student schedules. See what department would be good for your child. Personally, I worked for the bakery at my school and absolutely loved it! I learned so much there!
This is something that’s becoming more and more popular. When I first started college, most people bought their books. Although, by the time I graduated there were a lot of students renting. It can be even cheaper than buying the books used on Amazon. Also, most of the books that your child will need for school aren’t ones that they’ll use again. I think that I’ve only kept about 5 of the books I had in college to continue to use (and this includes language dictionaries).
Every College is Different
One of the ways my tuition was so cheap was that I attended school in my home state. So, I dodged that out of state price jump. My first semester in college only cost $300 in fees. My books were more expensive than that! My grandparents were thrilled and so was I! However, by the time I graduated in 2014 the price had gone up significantly. I lived off campus, so I didn’t have to pay for a dorm room or meal plan. Even then, most colleges increase their tuition yearly. This is something that is unavoidable. So, one way to get ahead on that is to continue to apply for those scholarships.
I received a scholarship specifically for study abroad my Sophomore year of college. I knew that it would be expensive to go because I’d be paying for a dorm room and meal plan. This scholarship made a HUGE difference. Click here to read about the Gilman Scholarship program and if your child is eligible. Most of the sites that I mentioned above have scholarships available to those already in college as well. It is NEVER TOO LATE to start applying for scholarships. Let’s write those essays!
Finally, I have to say that my grandparents did play a huge part in paying for my tuition as well as my mother. When my mother died, I was left with a sum of money. (Click here or here to read more about her. Click here or here to read more about my grandma as well.) That money was a huge help when the time came to pay for study abroad (which was the same as in state tuition living in a dorm with a meal plan). Even though I did have financial help through that account from my mom and my grandparents, I would’ve had to take out tens of thousands of dollars in loans without my scholarships and grants. One of the scholarships specific to my school was worth $16,000 alone! So, get your kid excited about living debt free and get to work setting up those scholarship profiles!!
Did you go to college? Do student loans stress you out?