10 Ways to Find More Money for College
Maybe Your Dream College Isn’t Out of Reach After All
Late spring is the season when high school seniors are down to the wire on making a final decision as to which college they will attend. For some, the choice is easy — they have a favored college with a great financial aid package. All they have to do is sign on the dotted line, and they’re on the way.
But for others, college might seem out of reach due to financial reasons. They might be eager to attend a certain college, but money is a problem. Fortunately, there are things you can do to get closer to your dream. Here are ten ways to find more money to pay for college:
- Ask: If you are short by just a few thousand dollars, it never hurts to ask. By the end of the school year, admission offices know who has accepted financial aid offers and how full their class will be. They might be able to find enough money to get you in.
- File: One big reason students fall short is that they don’t file the FAFSA. Some families don’t submit this crucial form for any number of reasons. You may not qualify for financial aid if you do, but you definitely will not qualify for financial aid if you don’t. In fact, NerdWallet estimated that 2014's high-school grads missed out on $2.7 billion in financial aid because of incomplete or un-submitted FAFSAs. Results showed that the average amount of money left on the table per eligible high school graduate who didn’t apply was $1,861.
- Provide an update: If you did submit a FAFSA, but your financial situation has changed dramatically since then, contact the college and explain what happened. Be prepared to offer substantial documentation to support your claim.
- Get a scholarship: Perhaps you slacked off on the scholarship search while doing everything else, but it is time to pick up again on that quest. Scholarships are available year-round for a wide variety of interests and abilities. There is probably one that is just right for you.
- Carefully consider student loans: It can be dangerous to use student loans to fund an entire education, but if the amount is small it might be worth borrowing some money to bridge the gap. Only borrow what you need to pay for education expenses, and always use federal student loans before moving on to private student loans. Make sure you completely understand your rights and responsibilities before taking on any student loans.
- Earn some money: There is plenty of time between finishing the application process and beginning the college year. It might mean sacrificing a little summer fun, but find a job where you can work a good number of hours over the summer. Use that money to cover some of your out-of-pocket expenses.
- Borrow at better rates: Perhaps you can talk to some of your relatives about borrowing money at favorable interest rates. They’ll be helping you over a financial bump, and might even be willing to forgive your debt upon graduation. Just make sure to put everything in writing, and live up to your commitments.
- Sell something: You’d be surprised at the amount of money you have lying around in “stuff” you’re not using. Hold a garage sale, put it on e-Bay, or sell it at a flea market to raise extra cash. If you’re artistic or creative, you can make something that can be sold at craft shows or online.
- Drive: If you have your own car and are a responsible driver with proper insurance, you might want to sign up with one of the ride-hailing companies once you get on-campus. There are plenty of students without cars who will gladly pay you to take them around.
- Open a bank account: Take some of that money and save it. Compare offers from local banks as some of them are willing to pay good money as an incentive to attract new customers and students.
You might be surprised at the money you can find to help pay for that college dream. The secret is to get up off your best intentions and get started!