Earning Education: What to Know About Paying Tuition
The price of education has skyrocketed well beyond the price of inflation. Making the wrong move in your education can set you up for a long term struggle with debt. Whether it’s your Associate’s degree to become an Emergency Medical Technician, or an online civil engineering Master’s, get the facts about paying your tuition now and save yourself a lot of hassle and heartache down the road.
Many counselors, parents, and professionals will suggest going to the highest ranked school you can get into. While it may seem like sound advice, this is often not the best option. While your success in some fields, like corporate law, may be strongly affected by your school choice, in most cases it won’t matter too much. Find an accredited program that seems interesting and beneficial to you, but take into account cost of tuition and potential for scholarships. You should also consider what job you’re likely to get with your degree, and how much you will honestly be able to afford putting toward loan payments.
Getting Free Money
Apply for scholarships, and lots of them. There’s a ton of free money out there, especially for students seeking their bachelor’s degree. Applying can be tedious, but when else will you stand to make thousands of dollars for a few minutes filling out a form? Government grants are also available for a number of situations, and don’t need to be repaid. Make sure you fill out your FAFSA accurately and on time to ensure you’re eligible for all the financial aid you need.
Working for Your Keep
Many schools offer work study programs that will lower your tuition, or give you a salary in exchange for work performed for the school. At the graduate level, you can seek out assistanceships and teacher assistant positions to lower that tuition bill as well. You should also seriously consider at least working part time while you study. Even if it only pays your rent, every little bit you don’t have to borrow now will help you down the road.
Taking It Slow
Consider attending school part time and paying for classes as you can afford them. Avoiding potentially high interest rates and crippling debt is well worth a little extra time in school.
Getting Help From Your Job
Many employers will help pay for your education if it will make you more valuable to the company. If you’re already working in the field your degree pertains to, talk to your employer. You will generally need to work for that employer for a prescribed number of years after you graduate to avoid paying them back. Some companies, like Starbucks, will help fund your education even if it doesn’t directly affect your job performance, so it never hurts to ask.
Asking For Help
This one may be a hit to your pride, but talk to friends and family who might be willing to help you. Often parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and godparents are eager to help the next generation of the family succeed, even if they can only contribute a little bit. Tell your family that for Christmas and birthdays you want help paying for school, rather than gifts. Consider asking your social network for small contributions toward your dream career. If you can get everyone on your Facebook friends list to chip in just $10, you’ll be in a much better position.
If you must take out loans, take as much of the money in federal loans as possible. These are differed until you get out of school and will work with you to make a payment plan consistent with your income. Working with certain organizations, like schools in high needs areas or volunteer organizations like the Peace Corps can lower your student debt while providing you with a salary.
Paying your tuition can be a challenge, but with the right game plan you can get an education and keep your financials strong.