How to Get Money for College

Four Methods:Financial Aid Cheat SheetGetting Scholarships, Grants, and LoansEarning Money in Other WaysSaving Money

College is a big expense, but a worthwhile one. A college degree will generally result in more opportunities for employment and more money. Employers value people with college degrees and seek them more in the job market compared to high school graduates. Many students are paying for their educations years after getting their degree, but there are other ways to get money for college. In some cases, you don't have to pay it back, reducing your college expenses.

Financial Aid Cheat Sheet

Student Financial Aid Cheat Sheet

Method 1
Getting Scholarships, Grants, and Loans

  1. Image titled Create an Educational Scholarship Fund Step 10
    Request information about scholarship programs from your school. Many universities offer academic, sports, and other types of scholarship money for college. Every year, organizations give out over a million scholarships.
    • Scholarships can be awarded based on academic merit, athletics, financial need, or on a first-come, first-served basis.
    • Depending on what school you attend, you may need to apply for federal aid first.
  2. Image titled Create an Educational Scholarship Fund Step 11
    Look into professional organizations for the major/career in which you are interested. Places like the American Broadcasters Association give scholarships to students looking for a career in broadcasting.
  3. Image titled Apply for Grants for Single Mothers Step 2
    Apply for grant money as soon as you can. There are many different types of grants, including state, institutional, and federal. They tend to be on a first-come, first-served basis. Because of this, it is best to apply for them as early as you can. You will be more likely to get more money from the grant this way as well. You can apply for a number of federal, state, and private grants and scholarships.
    • If you live in the United States and make less than $40,000 a year, you may be eligible for some sort of grant.
  4. Image titled Apply For Small Business Grants For Women Step 3
    Look into state grant money if you live in the United States. Most states offer their own free money programs. States may base their grants on financial need; although, some state programs encourage specific areas of study. Some states take information from the FAFSA, others will require you to complete a separate application.
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    Take a chance on getting money from institutional grants. Organizations give this grant money to students when federal and state aid isn't enough to cover tuition or to reduce tuition for desirable candidates. These grant monies come from the college itself.
  6. Image titled Apply For Small Business Grants For Women Step 5
    Consider applying for a federal grant. If you live in the United States, you can apply for the FAFSA grant. You might even be eligible for a Pell grant, which is the largest grant program available. Pell grants begin at a few hundred dollars and may be as much as several thousand dollars. It also allows you to considered for all other types of federal grants, work programs and federal student loans.
    • FAFSA forms must be filled out online before January 1st of each year.
  7. Image titled Apply for a Grant Step 6
    Look into federal loan programs and low-interest private loan programs. Unlike grants and scholarships, loans must be paid back. Loans will generally have different interest rates, which will go into effect after you graduate from college.
    • Federal loans, such as FAFSA, can be both subsidized and unsubsidized. Sometimes, the amount you get and the interest rate, are based off of your income.
    • Private loans usually have a higher interest rate than federal loans. They are great for those students who have already used up their federal loan limit.
  8. Image titled Apply for a Grant Step 7
    Negotiate a better financial aid package. Some schools will make a low offer of financial aid initially. When students ask for better packages, sometimes the school will provide more assistance. Also, some schools may have offered scholarships to students who decided not to enroll and they may have extra funds to re-distribute.

Method 2
Earning Money in Other Ways

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    Find a job. You do not need to apply for a job that is associated with your major. A simple job, such as working in retail or at a cafe, bartending, or waitressing is easier to get and will offer more flexible hours.
    • Consider getting several part-time or one full-time job during the summer. You may not have a lot of time to have fun and relax with your friends, but you will gain more money to pay for your studies.
    • If you plan on going to school while working, consider getting a part-time job with flexible working hours instead. This will allow you to focus on your studies while making money.
    • When you do get a job, ask your employer if the company has any tuition assistance programs that you could benefit from.
  2. Image titled Plan a Bake Sale Step 7
    Host a bake sale in your community. It may seem like a flashback to your elementary school days, but most people won't mind donating money for a good cause — especially if they get a yummy treat in return.
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    Take advantage of your talents. Not everyone is going to share your talents, and some people may be willing to spend a lot of money on a handcrafted item or getting their computer fixed. For example:
    • If you are good at arts and crafts, consider making a bunch of items to sell online or at craft fairs. People will often spend a lot of money on handmade bags, scarves, arm warmers, and pottery.
    • If you are good with children or pets, offering baby or pet sitting services. Community centers, libraries, and cafes are great places to post fliers.
    • If you are skilled at fixing things, such as electronics, post fliers in community centers, libraries, and cafes offering your services.
  4. Image titled Stop Your Parents from Fighting Step 5
    Ask for gift money instead of other types of presents. A $200 pair of earrings may look beautiful, but that same money can also pay for a semester's worth of textbooks. When friends and family ask you what you want to get for your birthday, Christmas, or any other holiday, consider requesting gift money instead of expensive gadgets, jewelry, clothing, and so forth.
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    Check out contests at your school. Some contests offer money, but others may offer other freebies, such as free classes or textbooks.

Method 3
Saving Money

  1. Image titled Passbuyingphone
    Pass on the newest phone, car, and computer model. New phones, cars, laptops, and other electronic devices can be very expensive. While having the latest model might be nice, it is not necessary, especially if your current model is still functional. Unless your phone, car, or laptop is completely falling apart, try to keep your money in your savings account instead.
  2. Image titled Pass the Maryland Non Commercial Class C Driver's Test Step 7
    Choose good gas mileage over aesthetics when buying a car. Gas can get expensive, especially if you are driving your car to and from school. A fancy car that uses a lot of gas may look nice, but your bank account won't look so nice after a few months. Instead, opt for a smaller car that uses less gas or a car that is known to be very fuel-efficient, and one that will get you to and from school safely.
  3. Image titled Purchase a Textbook Step 5
    Search around for cheaper options before buying your textbooks. Student bookstores don't always have the best prices when it comes to textbooks. Instead of buying a brand new textbook, consider buying a used one; the price is often half of a new textbook. You may also be able to find cheaper editions online.
    • Some colleges have bookstores close to them that sell textbooks. They are not part of the school or student bookstore, and their prices are often much lower.
    • Buy used textbooks with caution. Some professors require the latest edition, and the used textbook you are buying may or may not be the right edition.
    • To earn back some of your money, consider selling your textbooks at the end of the semester. Keep in mind, however, that if a new edition comes out in the meantime, you may not get very much money back.
    • You can also rent textbooks as well. This is often the cheapest option, and you do not have to worry about the sell-back value plummeting at the end of the semester.
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    Distribute your earnings between multiple savings accounts. When you get money, plan on distributing it between three accounts: your regular account, an account for college fees, and an account for emergencies. When you deposit your paycheck, transfer a small portion of it to your "college fees" and "emergencies" accounts. Whatever you have left over will go into your regular account, and will have to last you until your next paycheck.
  5. Image titled Finish High School Step 1
    Consider earning college credits early while still in high school. Some high schools offer classes (such as AP and Cambridge) that will give you credit for college.
  6. Image titled Do Well in College Step 1
    Consider community college for general education courses. Save the special major courses for your college, and take the regular, general education courses at your local community college. Community colleges are often much cheaper, and you can finish your entire college education sooner.
  7. Image titled Obtain Money from Your Parents Step 10
    Consider living at home or with relatives. College is often associated with freedom, but this does not mean that you have to move out and live on your own. Rent is expensive, and the cost of living in an apartment or a dorm room can really add up after a year. If you have parents or relatives who live close to your school, consider living with them. You will also end up saving on other things, such as: internet, heating/water/electrical bills, and food.
  8. Image titled Deal With Mean Parents Step 3
    See if you can get financial aid from your parents or relatives. Even if they cannot pay for your tuition, they might be willing to chip in a little bit when it comes to buying other necessities, such as textbooks and school supplies. They may request that you pay the money back, but unlike with a loan, they are unlikely to tack on interest.
  9. Image titled Ride Metro Transit Buses Step 6
    Save money on transportation. Cars can be a quick and convenient way to get to school, but they can also get expensive, especially if your school requires you to buy monthly parking passes. Instead, see if you can walk, bike, or skateboard to school.
    • If there is public transportation near your school, try to take advantage of that. Many schools offer student-priced public transit passes to their students. One advantage to taking the bus to school is being able to do your homework while you ride.
    • If you absolutely must take a car to school, consider carpooling instead and have everyone chip in for the parking and gas costs.


  • To find state money, check online for your state's student aid or higher-education commission.
  • Make sure you meet all deadlines. Each college, each state, and most private scholarships have their own deadlines.
  • Use Excel, or a similar program, to make a spreadsheet of all the financial aid deadlines for each place you are applying.
  • Loans must be paid back, often with interest. Grants and scholarships do not require you to pay back the money.
  • To reduce cost, download digital textbooks, rent textbooks from a national book rental clearing house, or purchase second-hand textbooks.


  • Beware of scams. Grants and scholarships should be free. If you have to pay to get them, it is likely a scam.

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