Everyone wants something, but how we go about getting these wants may vary. To get what you want in life, it is important to have a plan. Paying for college is no different. Students who have developed academic and financial plans are more likely to be prepared for their college experience. On this page you will find helpful tips and information that you can use to help you prepare and pay for your college education.
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Tip 1: Be Self-Reliant
Preparing financially for a college education begins long before you become a student. One way to provide for a college education is through your own work. It is recommended that you work and save money to pay for as much of your tuition and other expenses as you can. When possible, you should work during high school to save money. This will help you prepare financially for future college expenses.
There are many opportunities to work part-time as a college student. Working and saving money will reduce the need to rely upon financial aid, and it will help you minimize or avoid debt that you may accrue through student loans. Saving personal funds to pay for a college education invites feelings of accomplishment, appreciation, satisfaction, and value. Work teaches sacrifice and important life skills that will bless you throughout your life.
Tip 2: Prepare Academically
Strong academic preparation will benefit you in two ways. First, you will be better prepared to succeed academically at the college level. Second, you will be eligible to receive various scholarship awards. Many academic scholarship awards are based upon a high grade point average along with ACT and SAT scores. Students are strongly encouraged to apply for scholarships as a way to help pay for college.
Tip 3: Apply for Scholarships
Research all options for scholarships. You may find scholarships through your high school counseling office, on the Internet, through your parents’ work, in your community or state, or at the college you will be attending. Scholarships at CES schools are typically awarded to students who have demonstrated outstanding achievements in academics, leadership, service, talent, or majors. Scholarship funds represent an investment in students’ education and are given to enhance students’ spiritual, intellectual, and physical growth.
A great resource for finding non-institutional scholarships is FastWeb. This website is the largest, most accurate, and most frequently updated scholarship database.
Lastly, you can simply search for scholarships on your favorite web search engine. Keep in mind that there are many scams out there. Most scholarships search engines should be free. If the scholarship sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
Tip 4: Apply for Federal Aid
Federal financial aid is another option to help pay for college expenses. To apply for federal financial aid, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Apply as early as possible to ensure aid will be available when school starts. By filling out the FAFSA you are automatically considered for various types of aid. One of the most common types of aid is a Federal Pell Grant. A Federal Pell Grant is awarded to a student on the basis of financial need and does not need to be paid back. Visit the CES school websites above to learn more about financial aid eligibility and options.
Tip 5: Avoid Debt
Loans should be a last resort in receiving financial aid to pay for college. In many cases, if you work and save money, explore family contributions, and apply for scholarships and federal financial aid, you may not need to take out students loans. However, student loans can be a useful option to help you pay for college if all other options have been explored and additional financial need exists. There are three main types of loans available:
- Subsidized federal Stafford loans
- Unsubsidized federal Stafford loans
- Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) loans
Use loans responsibly and carefully to avoid excessive debt. Remember to counsel with your parents and research loan options carefully to make informed decisions.