5 Fast Ways to Get Help Paying Your College Tuition

 March 30, 2021
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2.55% to 11.44% 2

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3.25% to 13.59% 3

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Note that the government has paused all repayment on federally held student loans through the end of 2022, with no interest to be charged during that period and no loans to be held delinquent or in default.

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If you find yourself saying, “I need help paying for college fast,” you might be tempted to take desperate measures.

Before resorting to borrowing student loans or other serious financial moves, however, consider all of your options. It’s never too late to come up with a solution, whether it’s through your independent efforts or by asking for help. You might apply for an on-campus job, for example, or request a raise for the position you already have.

If you’re trying to figure out how to raise money for college fast, take multiple approaches. Here are five potential solutions, along with further suggestions:

1. Talk to your school
2. Ask family and friends for assistance
3. Try crowdfunding to help pay your tuition
4. Apply for scholarships with faster rewards
5. Consider emergency student loans
● Plus: When you still can’t get quick help paying for college

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1. Talk to your school

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 or work-study positions 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 tuition payment plans that delay deadlines.

2. Ask family and friends for assistance

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 opening 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. Just be sure you’ve reviewed the pros and cons of borrowing money from family.

3. Try crowdfunding to help pay your tuition

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 borrowers who found donors to pay off student loans.)

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.

4. Apply for scholarships with faster rewards

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’s not too late to apply for and win scholarships for your next semester of college.

Read up on scholarships for…
High school students
Current college students
First-generation students
Asian students
Black students
Latino and Hispanic students
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program students
Minority students
Community service
Military service
Professional development
Single parents
Single moms
Out-of-state students
Studying abroad in Japan
Studying abroad in Canada

Many scholarships 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 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 scholarship search tools such as Chegg.

5. Consider emergency student loans

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Borrowing from your school: Almost 70% 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.
  3. Taking out a private loan: Although private lenders might be able to disburse your loan faster, they might require you to find 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 consider taking out a private loan, remember that banks, online companies and other financial institutions don’t offer protections like federal loans. One notable federal protection is the ability to adjust your repayment plan after you leave college.

Still, if you’ve exhausted your other options, a private student loan could be just what you need to get help paying college tuition in the fastest way possible.

When you still can’t get quick help paying for college

If you’re still unable to get the aid you need to afford your next college bill, you might consider more drastic measures, including:

  • Ditching your expensive dorm room or apartment and moving back home (if your family lives close enough to campus)
  • Transferring to a lower-cost school, such as your local community college
  • Taking a semester off to budget your costs, ramp up up your income and rack up savings

These are all options worth discussing with your admissions and financial aid counselors. Whatever you decide, file the FAFSA annually to ensure your next college award package truly reflects your financial situation. Then, you hopefully won’t find yourself in this predicament again.

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