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Paying for College

Paying for College

Figuring out how to pay for college is a very common concern among prospective college students and their parents.

Most college students pay for college using a variety of resources. No matter which college financing alternative you choose, you should still complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as well as any financial aid forms required by your school.

Here we'll take a look at some of the various ways of paying for college.

Ways of Paying for College

Student Loans

Most students turn to some type of student loans for college to cover the cost of going to college. You can use these college loans not only for tuition, but for books and other educational-related expenses as well.

  • Stafford Loan: Stafford loans are available to most students regardless of income and credit history. They are either subsidized or unsubsidized depending on your financial need, which is determined by the government. If your Stafford Loan is subsidized, then the U.S. Department of Education will pay any interest that accrues on your loan while you are in school or while the loan is in deferment. If your loan is unsubsidized, then you, as a student, are responsible for the interest. These are not need-based loans, however there are borrowing limitations depending on your enrollment status and class (freshman, sophomore, etc.).

  • PLUS Loan: If you are a dependent student, your parents can apply for a Federal PLUS Loan to cover the expenses of your college education. PLUS loans are credit based, therefore your parents should have a good credit history in order to be approved for these types of loans.

  • Private Student Loans: Private student loans can also be used to supplement federal student loans when federal loans, grants and work-study are not enough to cover the cost of education. Private loans for college can be obtained from any bank or credit union. Being a credit-based loan, it is wise to apply with a co-signer if you do not meet the income and credit requirements. Private student loans may be used for any education-related expenses such as tuition, room and board, books, computers, and more.

While using student loans for college is one of the common methods of paying for college, students should understand that it is not their only option when it comes to paying for their college education.

College Grants

Educational grants are funds that are allocated to students that meet the requirements of the giver. Some schools are given money by donors to use for their grant program. The federal government provides a Pell Grant to financially-needy undergraduate students. Grants do not have to be repaid.

College Scholarships

Scholarships for college students are financial awards based on a student’s academics or other requirements, depending on the benefactor. Student’s can apply for scholarships through companies, states, or even through their own college. College scholarships do not have to be repaid.


Work-Study is when a student is given a part-time job (usually on campus) and the earnings from the job are allocated to pay for the student’s tuition. These jobs are usually awarded to financially-needy students first, and then to other students if any jobs remain available.

As previously stated, you must fill out the FAFSA to be eligible for Stafford Loans, Work-Study, grants and even some scholarships. Check with your school for additional paperwork regarding any of these alternative resources, as well as a complete list of scholarships available.

Other Options for Paying for College

  • GI Bill - A popular benefit provided by the military.