wikiHow to Pay for College With No Financial Aid

Three Parts:Applying for ScholarshipsDeciding On A CollegeUsing Savings And Work Income

Along with buying a house, paying for college can be one of the biggest investments you will make in a lifetime. If you don't have access to college financial aid, then paying for your education will take some careful planning. Fortunately, there are alternatives to financial aid that can considerably reduce the economic burden of college. You can apply for scholarships, earn college credit in high school and save money for college from a job.

Part 1
Applying for Scholarships

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    Find some scholarships that may be a fit for you. There are many types of scholarships to help you pay for college, and not all are based on academics. For example, you may qualify for a scholarship based on your ethnicity, your gender, or your parents' military background.[1]
    • Other scholarships relate to your hobbies and interests, or your area of study.
    • There is no limit to the number of scholarships you can use toward paying for college.
    • Many scholarships renew each year that you are in school. If your funding renews each year, you don’t have to search for other funding sources to replace a scholarship that has ended.
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    Work with an expert who can help you locate scholarships that may be a fit for you. Both your high school and all universities have staff that can direct you toward scholarships. Applying for scholarships can be time-consuming, but it’s worth making the effort.[2]
    • If you are in high school, sit down with a guidance counselor to discuss your scholarship options. Many organizations that offer scholarships will reach out to contacts at high schools. These organizations want qualified candidates to apply.
    • Ask an administrator at your college of choice about the scholarships the college offers, as well as qualification and submission requirements. If the college administrator helps you find scholarships, there is a higher chance that you will attend their school.
    • Many scholarships are given by organizations to advance a particular mission. You may be required to write an essay, or demonstrate service to the community as part of your application. If you apply for a scholarship from a non-profit, for example, you may have to document how you’ve volunteered in your community.
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    Search the web for scholarship opportunities. Keep in mind that some scholarships are not publicized by the organization that provides them. If you perform a search on the web, you may find opportunities that other students miss.[3]
    • Search scholarship websites like FastWeb and Sallie Mae's Scholarship Search for programs where you can apply. Through these sites, you can get the information required to apply for the scholarships, as well as what it takes to be approved.
    • Check your locate community newspaper. Many local charitable organizations grant scholarships to students in the community. You may find information about these opportunities in your local paper.
    • Review your local library’s website. Library bulletin boards often have postings of local scholarship funds operated by private parties and area businesses. The library may also post that information on their website.

Part 2
Deciding On A College

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    Earn college credit in high school. Your high school counselor can also help you find courses that allow you to earn college credit. Those credits will reduce the amount of course work you need to take in college.[4]
    • In addition to your high school, you may be able to take courses at your community college while you are in high school. Those credits can also transfer to a 4-year university.
    • When considering a university, make sure that they accept the transferred college credits from your high school or community college. If they don’t, consider a different university that does accept the credits.
    • Some four year colleges will accept the credit hours, but not the grade you earned. This can still help you, since the credit transfer will reduce the hours required to graduate.
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    Use AP courses and CLEP exams to earn additional college credit. Both of these programs are offered through the College Board. If your high school does not offer certain AP courses, you can take them online.[5]
    • You can take AP (or Advanced Placement) courses in a variety of subjects, including math, science, history and social studies.
    • After taking an AP course, students sit for an exam. If you score well enough on the exam, you can earn college credit.
    • CLEP offers 33 exams in 5 subject areas. If you pass a particular CLEP exam, you can earn 3 or more college credits.[6]
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    Analyze the type of college you want to attend. The tuition between colleges can vary greatly, based on the type of school you choose. You can select a public or private university. Your school may be near your home or out of town.[7]
    • A private university can be twice as expensive as attending a public (or state) university. To keep your costs down, narrow your choices to public colleges.
    • If you decide to attend school near your home, you can live at home and commute to school. This eliminates the need to pay for room and board.
    • You can attend a community college for two years then transfer to a university. The credit hours you pay for at a community college will be cheaper than the rates at a university. You may earn up to half of your university credits at a cheaper community college.
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    Use a work-study program or the ROTC. Many colleges meet the financial needs of students by offering work-study programs. You may also consider a Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (ROTC) program to pay for college.[8]
    • A work-study program normally involves working a certain number of hours on your college campus. In exchange for your work hours, your tuition costs are reduced.
    • The Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (ROTC) program trains college students for future careers in the military.
    • The ROTC offers scholarships that cover the cost of your college education. In exchange, the student commits to active duty service in their chosen branch of the military.

Part 3
Using Savings And Work Income

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    Start a savings plan for college at an early age. Parents can plan for college expenses when a child is very young. The savings they accumulate can be used for college expenses.[9]
    • Consider a 529 Plan for your college savings. These plans may allow the investor to invest pre-tax dollars into an investment, like a mutual fund.
    • Because the dollars have not been taxed, more money goes into the investment. Say, for example, that you want to invest $100 a month on a pre-tax basis. The entire $100 gets invested. If you had to pay taxes on the $100 first, you may only invest $80.
    • Set up a family budget. Include an amount of college savings in that budget. When you’re paid each month, move funds into the college savings plan immediately. That self-discipline will help you keep your investing plan on track.
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    Get a job. Even students who do get college financial aid often have to find employment to make ends meet while they go through school. You may need to work full time and attend school part time.[10]
    • Alternatively, you may be able to work part time and go to school full time.
    • Look into alternatives to traditional shift-work, like multiple part-time jobs. Part-time jobs give you more flexibility to fit in your courses at school.
    • Check your school's website for alternative sources of income. You may find small tasks that pay you something and don't take much time. For example, nearly all colleges need people to take research studies.
    • Consider taking more classes online, if they are available. Some colleges offer degrees completely online. An online program can provide the flexibility that can allow you to work while you’re in school.
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    Look into tuition reimbursement. Some employers offer to reimburse their full-time workers for the cost of tuition. These costs are covered when an employee attends college while they work at the firm.[11]
    • Employers want their workers to increase their skills. A business may offer to pay for college degrees that increase your value to the firm.
    • If you pursue tuition reimbursement, the company may require you to stay with the firm for a period of time after your courses are completed.
    • If you leave before the time required, you may have to repay the tuition costs to your former employer.

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Categories: Budgeting and Financial Aid for College