7 Things High School Students Can Do Now to Save for College

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

teenage high school girls chatting in a school hallway about saving for college

You’ve probably heard your parents and teachers say that college is expensive. They’re not kidding. A single year at a public university costs nearly $10,000, on average. If you choose a private school, your bill could be much higher.

With the high cost of an education, your parents might not be able to afford to help you pay for it. You might have to pay for some or all of it on your own. In a survey, the College Savings Foundation found that 71% of parents expect their children to contribute to college expenses.

Being expected to foot the bill can be overwhelming and scary, but it’s doable. Here are seven things you can do while in high school to pay for college.

1. Boost your grades

Many colleges and universities offer merit scholarships for academics. If you have good grades or above average scores on standardized tests, you could qualify for a scholarship that covers some or all of your tuition, fees, and school supplies.

You can increase your chances of securing a scholarship by working hard to boost your grades. Putting in the extra time to study for a biology exam might sound boring, but it could help you save thousands later on.

2. Participate in extracurriculars

When awarding scholarships, many schools look beyond grades. They like to find students who would be beneficial to the campus and will be active in the school community. If you can keep up your grades, it can be helpful to sign up for a few extracurricular activities, such as student council, sports, or the school newspaper.

3. Apply for a part-time job

The jobs you can get while in high school might not be glamorous, but they can go a long way in helping you pay for school. By taking on a part-time job, you could save thousands for your education.

Let’s say you got a job at the mall and work 10 hours a week making $7.25 per hour, the national minimum wage. If you’re a high school sophomore and work year-round for three years, you could save up to $11,310 by the time you start college. That amount doesn’t account for taxes. But even saving up a few thousand dollars can reduce how much you need to borrow for school.

4. Research scholarships and grants

Although your college might offer scholarships and grants, it’s not the only available source of financial aid. You can win scholarships from a wide range of organizations, including private businesses, nonprofit organizations, and even individuals.

Some award scholarships are based on academics, but there are plenty of other reasons you could earn a scholarship. For example, there are scholarships for talented duck-callers and bowlers.

You don’t have to be in college or even be a high school senior to qualify. There are scholarships available to high schoolers of all ages. Use these nine scholarship search tools to get started.

5. Sell stuff you don’t use

Another way to save for college is to sell stuff you don’t use anymore. If you have books, clothes, old cell phones, or electronics lying around, you could turn that clutter into cash. Sell those items and set aside your earnings for your college fund.

Check out these tips to help you sell stuff online.

6. Take Advanced Placement (AP) courses

According to the College Board, taking AP courses now can help you graduate from college on time and reduce your education expenses.

When you earn a qualifying score on an AP exam, you earn college credit for the class. That can save you from having to take some classes in college, potentially helping you graduate early or fulfill requirements ahead of time.

Depending on the AP courses you take and where you go to college, challenging yourself in high school could help you save thousands.

7. Open a bank account

One of the best ways to prepare for college financially is to open a dedicated bank account in your own name. In fact, you can even earn money for doing so. Some banks offer cash bonuses for opening new accounts, giving you a head start on saving for college.

Once you open a bank account, you can direct a percentage of your earnings from your part-time job and any gifts to a college savings fund.

Planning for college

Figuring out how to pay for college can be overwhelming. But by taking action while in high school, you can reduce your college expenses and save money.

If you followed the above tips and still need help paying for school, be sure to research federal and private student loan options.

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.