It’s best to plan for college slowly and carefully on your timeline, not your school’s. But you can still improve your situation even if you’re at the mercy of an impending semester start date or tuition deadline. By requesting help paying for college, applying for scholarships and considering student loans, you could fund your first or next year on campus.
5 solutions if you need help paying for college
If you find yourself saying, “I need help paying for college fast,” you might be tempted to take desperate measures.
Instead, think about these two main avenues to raise money for school: being proactive on your own and being proactive about asking for help. For example, you might find a part-time job or ask your boss for a raise.
If you’re trying to figure out how to raise money for college fast, take both approaches. They’re common themes among these five potential solutions.
Introduce yourself to your prospective school’s financial aid office. If you haven’t enrolled yet, however, the office might be limited in how it can help you. But it’s still wise to check in because your school’s financial aid representatives could point you in the right direction.
They could hook you up with a federal student aid administrator, for example, if you haven’t claimed federal grants or maximized your loan allotment. Your financial aid office might also explain any on-campus solutions, if available. It might alert you to grant funds that went unused when other students decided to attend different schools, for example.
If you’ve experienced financial hardship, your school rep might also inform you about campus vouchers, grants and emergency loans. If you just need more time to come up with your tuition payment, you could ask your financial aid office about potential payment plans that delay deadlines.
Talking with your financial aid office should give you a broad understanding of how to pay for college. Whether your tuition shortfall is large or small, family or friends could help you fill it.
Instead of asking for a handout from mom, dad, or someone else in your inner circle, build a case. Explain to your loved one the following:
- How much help you need
- What the money would cover
- Why you need the money soon
- How you plan to pay it back (if applicable)
Family and friends who are in a position to help might also want to know that you’ve exhausted your other options before they open their checkbooks.
You’ll make a stronger argument for aid if you can prove you’ve already won a few scholarships and just need a little bit extra to push you over the hump.
When considering how to pay for college, crowdfunding might not immediately come to mind. But to reach more distant relatives or Facebook friends, consider taking your quest to cover tuition online.
Websites like GoFundMe could also connect you with strangers looking to support a worthy cause. Of course, it helps to have one.
Just saying “Help pay my tuition!” isn’t enough. You’ll need to convince the visitors to your page that your education is a worthy investment. You might do this by explaining your circumstances, plus how a college degree would help you change them. (Take a cue from student loan borrowers who’ve successfully crowdfunded payments.)
Getting strangers to land on your online listing is another challenge. You might promote it on your social media profiles or start an email campaign among your contacts.
In an ideal world, you started applying for gift aid as a high school junior. But if you’re a senior or already on a college campus, don’t write off this option just yet. It might not be too late to apply for and win scholarships for your next semester of college.
Many scholarship opportunities for high school seniors, for example, state when and how the award is sent to the winner. Even if an active scholarship lacks that information, look for one with a fast-approaching deadline. The closer the deadline, the closer the reward. You can sort opportunities by deadline on scholarship websites such as Chegg.
You might also be concerned that you don’t have enough time to fulfill application requirements. In that case, focus on opportunities that don’t call for recommendation letters or essays. You can use “Easy to Apply” filters using search tools like Niche.
Short of securing last-minute scholarships or other gift aid, you might resort to loans that need to be repaid.
Fortunately, there are a few ways to secure emergency student loans. They include:
- Maximizing your federal allotment: Your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) generated information about how much federal aid you could receive in the form of grants, loans and work-study programs. If you’re a dependent first-year undergraduate, you could receive as much as $5,500 in direct loans. If you’re in a bind, confirm that you were awarded as much federal aid as you could receive.
- Borrowing from your school: Almost 70 percent of colleges and universities offer an emergency loan program, according to the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. Emergency and institutional loan programs vary by school, but they are typically for students who’ve experienced hardship or can prove financial need. You could also negotiate a better aid package from your school.
- Taking out a private loan: Although private lenders might be able to disburse your loan faster, they might require a cosigner. They offer interest rates based on your credit history, debt-to-income ratio and other factors. Finding a creditworthy cosigner could help you secure the lowest rate possible. Just be sure to avoid instant or no-credit loans that include higher interest rates and shorter repayment periods.
Evaluate your lender options by looking beyond the interest rate you can secure. As you decide whether to take out a private loan, remember that private lenders don’t offer protections like federal loans. One notable federal protection is the ability to adjust your repayment plan after you leave college.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2020!
|* 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.
1 Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
2 Important Disclosures for College Ave.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
(1)All rates shown include the auto-pay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.
(2)This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.
(3)As certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive. Minimum $1,000.
Information advertised valid as of 11/4/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
3 Important Disclosures for Discover.
Discover's lowest rates shown are for the undergraduate loan and include an interest-only repayment discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments.
4 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change and state law restrictions. Loans are offered through CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS #1175900).
5 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 applicant’s ability to supply the necessary information for submission.
5 Important Disclosures for Citizens.
Undergraduate Rate Disclosure: Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As March 1, 2020, the one-month LIBOR rate is 1.62%. Variable interest rates range from 2.72% – 10.98% (2.72% – 10.83% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. Fixed interest rates range from 4.72% – 12.19% (4.72% – 12.04% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. Lowest rates shown requires application with a co-signer, are for eligible applicants, require a 5-year repayment term, borrower making scheduled payments while in school and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens One is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of the loan.
Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer with the Education Refinance Loan. Borrowers should carefully review their current benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans and replace those with the benefits of the Education Refinance Loan. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision at http://www.citizensone.com/EdRefinance, including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
Citizens One Student Loan Eligibility: Borrowers must be enrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting program at an eligible institution. Borrowers must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident or an international borrower/eligible non-citizen with a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer. For borrowers who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer is required. Citizens One reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Citizens One Student Loans private student loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, and if applicable, self-certification form, school certification of the loan amount, and student’s enrollment at a Citizens One Student Loans-participating school.
Please Note: International Students are not eligible for the multi-year approval feature.
Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
|2.75% – 10.65%*,1||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|2.84% – 10.97%2||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|2.80% – 11.37%3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.52% – 9.50%4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.14% – 11.88%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|2.72% – 10.98%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|