Most undergrad students depend on getting at least some financial assistance from their parents but not all families can oblige. Sometimes, their financial situation just does not allow them to offer any significant help towards the cost of college tuition. Or perhaps a student is independent of any familial connections. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t give up. Here’s how independent students can self-fund their college education.
Explore Every Scholarship & Grant Opportunity
One way independent students can self-fund their college education is through scholarships. You’ll be amazed at the scholarship and grant opportunities that are out there and not only for straight-A students. There are scholarships available for some of the most unexpected opportunities, from your dedication to volunteering to your ability to make duct tape dresses. In other words, there’s a scholarship out there for everyone.
Spend plenty of time looking for scholarships, and apply to all those you qualify for, even small ones. There is no limit to the number of scholarships you can apply for and every dollar you win will take you one step closer towards making your college education a reality. However, only apply to scholarships you completely qualify for. It doesn’t matter if you meet 5 out of the 6 requirements. There are plenty of other students who meet all 6 requirements. Don’t waste your time, and apply to scholarships you have a chance of winning.
File the FAFSA
Remember also that colleges and the federal government are the largest sources of scholarship aid—so file your FAFSA and get into contact with schools’ financial aid offices to see what sort of opportunities are available to a student in your situation. It doesn’t matter what financial situation you’re in, absolutely file the FAFSA. Filing the FAFSA opens you up to merit-based scholarships and grants from the college, as well as federal student loans. While loans aren’t optimal, federal ones are better than private loans. Federal loans tend to have lower interest rates and are more forgiving than private ones.
Additionally, many scholarships also ask for students to file the FAFSA. Many need-based scholarships use the FAFSA to determine an applicant’s financial need and circumstances, which in turn helps them decide who to award the money to.
Consider Community College at First
The education you will get at a community college is on par with almost any public university and you will graduate at just 1/3rd the cost. When you are self-funding your college education, it makes sense to look at this path to graduation. Many students complete their general education at a 2-year college before transferring to a 4-year for their Bachelor’s degree—it’s a smart way to receive a great education for lesser cost. Community college is absolutely a viable option to get your degree, and for a less amount of money. That means less loans, which ultimately means less debt to repay after you get your degree.
Use College Raptor to discover personalized college matches, cost estimates, acceptance odds, and potential financial aid for schools around the US—for FREE!