How to Fund College if You’re not Rich

There are a wealth of resources available for funding a college education including grants, scholarships, loans, savings accounts, etc. For the purpose of this article, I have taken the following from another article that I recently wrote under the title “Do You Need a College Funding Consultant?”.

Some traditional methods of paying for college that both parent and student can take advantage of:

-Apply for many scholarships including academic, athletic, music, and so forth. Whatever your interest or talent there is a scholarship available for it.

-Apply for FAFSA which is a free application for federal financial aid based on financial need. Colleges also use this form to review your financial situation and doing this can get you thousands in aid both loan based and grant based. Grants never need to be repaid.

– Taking private loans from companies such as Sallie Mae or AES. You are a fool if you go to a traditional bank for a loan for school. Many of these companies handle your federal loans so are well and ready to assist you in getting private loans. You should always apply to these AFTER federal and school aid.

Some newer methods (mainly for the parents):

– Upromise- Companies like these allow you to link many of your store cards (ie savings cards you have on your keychains for various stores) to transfer a percentage of your purchase amount or trade store credits into dollars towards your child’s college education. Generally these work best if started when the child is an infant.

– Investing- Generally if you are starting when the child is an infant you can look for a high interest savings account like ING Direct and commit a percentage of your monthly income to it year after year. With interest rates on these accounts reaching 5 percent, its a free setup and a sure way to save your money and make it grow. DO NOT tap into your 401K or retirement savings for college expenses.

You can also consult your school’s financial aid office, FAFSA, and others in college for advice and tips; don’t waste your money on a consultant who is going to charge you a ton of money to tell you what you can find out for free.