Maybe high school senioritis affected your college planning. Or perhaps you made a late decision to enroll.
Whatever the case, you’re probably wondering how to pay for college at (what feels like) the last minute.
Fortunately, there are ways to do it on a strict timeline.
5 solutions if you’re wondering how to pay 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.
1. Talk to your school
Introduce yourself to your prospective school’s financial aid office. If you haven’t enrolled yet, 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 representative 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. It’s also possible that your financial aid office will explain on-campus solutions. They might alert you to grant funds that went unused when other students decided to attend other schools, for example.
If you’ve experienced a financial hardship, your school rep might also educate 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.
2. Ask family and friends for help
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 better argument for aid if you can prove you’ve already won a few scholarships and need a little bit extra to push you over the hump.
3. Crowdfund your tuition online
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 for covering tuition online.
Websites like Generosity by Indiegogo, YouCaring, and 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.
Getting strangers to land on your 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 recent graduate, don’t write off this option just yet. It might not be too late to apply for and win scholarships for your first semester of college.
Many scholarship opportunities for high school seniors 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 like 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.
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 different ways to secure emergency student loans. They include:
- Maximizing your federal allotment: Your FAFSA spit out information about how much federal aid you could receive in the form of grants, loans, and work-study programs. As 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 are typically for students who’ve experienced a hardship or can prove financial need. You could also negotiate a better aid package from your school.
- Taking out a private loan: Although they might be able to disburse your loan faster, private lenders 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.
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.
Whatever you do, avoid instant or no-credit loans that include higher interest rates and shorter repayment periods.
How to raise money for college fast
It’s best to plan for college slowly and carefully on your own timeline, not your school’s. But you can still improve your situation even if you’re now at the mercy of a semester start date or your next tuition deadline.
Once you know how to pay for college, you need to get moving. One of these ways could help you fund your first year on campus. Then you can begin planning for your second.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2019!
|* 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.
** 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.
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
Explanation of Rates “With Autopay” (APD)
In school deferred payment is not available in AL, AZ, CA, FL, MA, MD, MI, ND, NY, PA, and WA).
2 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
3 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 7/1/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
4 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.
5 Important Disclosures for Discover.
|3.99% – 11.44%1||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.98% – 11.35%*,2||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.96% – 11.98%3||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|3.66% – 9.64%4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.87% – 11.87%**,5||Undergraduate and Graduate|