Going to college is all about socializing, freedom, and prepping for your future, right? Unfortunately, more students have to worry about paying for school rather than enjoying it.
But here’s the good news: There are plenty of creative ways to pay for college and still have time to enjoy what’s supposed to be the best years of your life.
Here’s how to pay for college with no money, and without getting a part-time job.
1. Apply for scholarships
Even if you’re not valedictorian or the star athlete, you should still apply for every scholarship possible. After all, it’s free money!
Scholarships are available for a variety of reasons. There are ones based on ethnic background, career or major interest, where you live, your socioeconomic background, and more. There are even scholarships created just for average students.
How do you tap into this free money? Check out one of these scholarship search tools. You can enter some basic information such as personal and academic details to find a list of ones where you’d potentially be eligible.
And don’t just apply to one－apply to as many as possible. Julia Isabel Martinez Rivera landed more than $50,000 in scholarships after applying for so many that she forgot submitting applications for some of them. One random scholarship Julia received was for $20,000 through a textbook company, so it doesn’t hurt to apply to even the most off-beat ones.
2. Become a resident assistant
A huge cost associated with attending college is room and board. The College Board reports those expenses alone range from $10,800 a year for a public four-year school to over $12,000 for a private four-year school. One way to combat those fees is by becoming a resident assistant (RA).
As an RA, you are often responsible for building a community in your dorm, helping with any resident problems, encourage a positive living environment, and report to the school of any issues. While there is a time commitment outside of class such as attending weekly meetings and being available to residents often, the benefit is your housing costs are covered. Not to mention, you will spend a chunk of your time in your room anyway doing homework and can still participate in extracurricular activities.
To apply for an RA position, contact the housing department at your school to find out the exact process.
3. Save money on textbooks
You might think textbooks are only a small part of college expenses, but book prices have increased from $58 in 2012 to $80 by 2016 — and they continue to rise. Students are spending around $1,200 a year on textbooks alone, a pretty steep price when tuition and housing expenses aren’t getting any better.
So, figuring out a way to diminish those costs could certainly help your bottom line. Here are a few ways to do it:
- Share textbooks: See if you can find someone in each of your classes who is willing to go in on a textbook. This will save money for both of you, and it’s pretty easy to figure out a schedule of who will have it by choosing which days you each plan to do homework. Or, make it a study date.
- Buy your textbooks used: There is no reason to pay full price for a textbook. Most professors will use the same books each year, so find a student who took the course a semester earlier and buy the textbook off of them. Some professors do require specific editions, so just check in first before purchasing anything. Then, once you’re done with it, sell it to another needy pupil to recoup your costs.
- Try to find an e-book: Many textbooks now have online versions that are much cheaper to download than buying as a hardcover. Do a quick web search to see if any of the titles assigned to you are available online, or ask your professor if there is an electronic version.
4. Learn to cook
According to the Hechinger Report, one of the main reasons college costs are becoming more expensive is due to the rising cost of meal plans. They found that on average a college or university charges about $4,500 for a basic three-meal plan or $18.75 per day over an eight-month academic term.
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that an average single person only pays $4,894 in a year or $13.40 per day for food. That adds up to a savings of over $5 per day — or nearly $1,200 over the course of the semester — if you can cook instead of purchasing a meal plan.
You might even want to consider going in on groceries with a roommate and splitting cooking duties to bring the costs down even more, potentially.
5. Explore student loan options
After you’ve exhausted all opportunities to secure free money through scholarships and grants, you might still have a gap in coverage for your educational costs. This is where student loans might come in handy.
Loans can cover everything from tuition to living expenses while you’re still in school, so you don’t have to take on a part-time job. Of course, some require you to start repaying while still in school and all stipulate you pay this money back in the years after you graduate, but it would allow you to focus on school in the meantime.
There are two types of student loans to consider:
- Federal student loans: These loans are awarded when you fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). To determine your eligibility for federal aid, the cost of your school and need for funds are taken into consideration. You could receive a combination of grants, work-study options, and federal loans in this process and you’ll need to decide whether to accept the package presented. Interest rates on these loans are regulated by the government.
- Private student loans: Unlike federal student loans, private loans are issued from individual lenders such as Citizens Bank or Sallie Mae. These lenders set the terms, and interest rates, which can be fixed or variable, and determine their own eligibility requirements.
For more information on how to get student loans, either federal or private, check out this guide.
Enjoy school without working part-time
These creative ways to pay for college make it so you can spend the next two to four years focusing on getting good grades and participating in many school social activities. Try using one or all of these tips to lower the immediate cost of college, but understand that things such as loans will have to be paid back once you graduate.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2018!
|1 Important Disclosures for CollegeAve.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or Nationwide Bank, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
Information advertised valid as of 11/1/2018. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
2 Important Disclosures for Discover.
3 Important Disclosures for Ascent.
Before taking out private student loans, you should explore and compare all financial aid alternatives, including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans and consider your future monthly payments and income. Applying with a cosigner may improve your chance of getting approved and could help you qualify for a lower interest rate. Ascent Student Loans may be funded by Richland State Bank (RSB). Ascent Student Loan products are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application, verification of application information and certification of loan amount by a participating school. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions, and certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. Ascent is a federally registered trademark of Turnstile Capital Management (TCM) and may be used by RSB under limited license. Richland State Bank is a federally registered service mark of Richland State Bank.
* Application times vary depending on the applicants ability to supply the necessary information for submission.
* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
4 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
5 Important Disclosures for PNC.
PNC Bank is one of the nation’s largest education loan providers. For over 40 years, PNC has been committed to helping students and their families make possible the adventure of college.
6 Important Disclosures for SunTrust.
Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. To view and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans, visit https://www.suntrust.com/loans/student-loans/private.
Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue this loan program without notice. Availability of all loan programs is subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.
SunTrust Bank, Member FDIC. ©2018 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.
7 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Additional terms and conditions apply. For more details see LendKey
8 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.
Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.
Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.
Remember also that like government loans, most private loans cannot be discharged if you file bankruptcy unless you can demonstrate that repayment of the loan would cause you an undue hardship. In most bankruptcy courts, proving undue hardship is very difficult for most borrowers.
9 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|3.94% – 12.78%1||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.04% – 13.04%3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.34% – 12.99%2||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.12% – 10.98%*,4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|5.03% – 11.23%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.12% – 13.13%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.92% – 10.01%7||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.72% – 9.68%8||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.26% – 12.13%9||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|