A degree from a college or technical school can be a ticket to a better life, with better prospects for careers. Unfortunately, the main obstacle keeping most people from pursuing higher education is the cost. But there are ways of raising money to pay for your degree that you may not have thought of. If your finances won’t allow you to get a degree, consider these other ways of putting the money together before you give up on your dream.
1. Get Student Loans
This is the most obvious option, and the one that most people go with – about 70% of bachelor’s degree recipients graduate with debt, and 40 million Americans hold some form of student loans. While the standard repayment plans for federal student loans typically expect you to repay the amount you borrow within ten years, many people take longer. This is definitely an option to consider, but with so many people defaulting on their loans or finding themselves burdened by debt for more than a decade, you may want to minimize the amount you have to borrow. And you should also carefully budget the money you do receive. Far too many students spend their excess loans on things they don’t need, rather than stashing it away for important expenses or repaying it immediately.
2. Look for Scholarships
Scholarship programs exist for all sorts of students. Even if you’re past the age at which most people go to school, you can find specialized scholarships intended for people who are returning to college after an extended absence. Research scholarships for people like you and apply for as many as you can – there’s no limit on the amount of aid you can receive. But be certain, once you receive one, to stay within the scholarship’s requirements for GPA and class hours, or you’ll risk losing it.
3. Consider Crowdfunding Your Tuition
If you’ve got a lot of people who support your ambitions, you might need to ask that they show their support financially. That doesn’t mean hitting up your richest friends for a loan, but rather using one of the many crowdfunding options now available online. Craft a statement explaining why you want to get a degree, how it will benefit your life, and what you plan to do to contribute to society once you graduate. Then create an account with a funding goal on a site like Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, or GoFundMe. This can be a great way to accumulate some money toward your degree, and if your friends are generous enough, it just might cover the whole thing.
4. Don’t Mistake Price for Quality
Americans have a tendency to assume the costliest option is the best, but when it comes to higher education, that simply isn’t true. When you’ve decided what degree you’d like to apply for, use the National Center for Education Statistics’ College Navigator tool to find schools that offer aid for students in your position. And research rankings for your degree with an eye on price. There are probably schools ranked in the top ten for your degree that cost half as much as the others. State schools are generally cheaper than private colleges, while technical schools often offer useful degrees and certifications for far less than the cost of a bachelor’s degree. Don’t assume that because a school doesn’t cost a fortune, it can’t be your ticket to a great career.
People with degrees earn more money on average and improve their lives by learning important and useful skills. But tuition continues to rise at most universities and even online degrees are out of reach for many people. The suggestions above can help you find the funding for your dream degree.