10 Ways to Pay for Your College Education
The long-term benefits of a college education are clear, but when you’re trying to figure out how to pay for it while still juggling your daily responsibilities, that’s when things can feel a little daunting. Luckily, there are numerous funding sources available to help you finance your degree.
Once you’ve calculated a rough idea of the total cost of your education, you can start piecing together what kind of funding options make the most sense for your needs. Here are ten different ways you can get financial support to help pay for college.
- Federal student loans
Borrowing can be a smart way to pay for school as long as you understand how student loans work, how they’re different from other types of debt and how long it will take you to pay them off. The U.S. Department of Education’s federal student loan program is the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program. These loans are typically offered with very low interest rates and can be subsidized or unsubsidized. With subsidized loans the interest is paid by the federal government while you’re in school, and with unsubsidized loans the interest accrues while you’re in school, but you don’t have to start payments until after graduation.
To check if you are qualified for either type of federal student loan, you must fill out the FAFSA application for federal student aid.
- Private student loans
If you don’t qualify for federal aid or need to supplement your financing, private loans from banks and other financial institutions are also widely available. Because private loans are generally more expensive than federal loans, and often require an established credit record or a cosigner, you should try the path of applying for a federal loan first before taking the path of a private loan. If you do choose to go the private loan route, make sure you review the interest rates and terms of the loan carefully before signing so you don’t get caught in a repayment plan you won’t be able to manage in the future.
- College grants
Grants are need-based, financial aid awards to help pay for tuition and costs. Federal Pell Grants, for example, are grants provided to low-income students. Eligibility rules and exclusions apply, and the amount awarded for this grant will vary based on your economic situation. If you qualify for a Federal Pell Grant, you can potentially receive up to $6,895 a year for the 2022–2023 academic year. There also may be state and corporate grants that could apply to your situation.
- Scholarships for college students
Scholarships are widely available and can vary tremendously in type, eligibility requirements, money awarded and terms and conditions. Many organizations and institutions offer scholarships based on a range of different criteria, including financial need, scholarly merit, ethnic heritage and so on. It’s always worth applying for as many scholarships as you can, since they don’t need to be repaid and even small amounts can add up to big savings in the long run.
- Tuition reimbursement
Many companies offer tuition reimbursement and financial incentive programs as a benefit to their employees to help pay for schooling. In general, employers are looking to nurture people in their organizations by helping them gain more education and develop new skills that will be useful to the company. Check with your HR department to see if you’re eligible for any tuition reimbursement or financial assistance programs.
- Military benefits
If you’re a service member, you may qualify for education benefits through the national GI Bill®*. Many schools will also offer additional discounts and savings to military personnel on top of the benefits they already receive through their service branch.
*GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.
- 529 College Savings Plans
If you don’t plan on pursuing your degree for a few years but want to start saving now, a 529 college savings plan is a potential option. A 529 allows you to save money, tax-free, in a special account that earns a return on investments, much like a mutual fund. The money in the fund can then be spent on things like tuition, books, housing and other school-related expenses. You can benefit from other education-related tax benefits, too, like the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit, both of which allow you (or your parents if you are their qualified dependent) to receive a tax credit for tuition payments.
- The Strayer Graduation Fund
If you decide to enroll at Strayer, the Graduation Fund program rewards achievement. For every three bachelor's courses you pass, earn one on us tuition-free, to be redeemed near the end of your program with the Strayer Graduation Fund*.
*Eligibility rules and restrictions apply. Connect with us for details.
- No-cost general education courses
In addition to the Graduation Fund, enrolled Strayer students can also access no-cost general education courses through our affiliate program, Sophia Learning. Strayer students have access to over 30 no-cost gen ed courses across subjects including business, communications, the humanities, information technology and the natural and social sciences. These self-paced courses can save students up to $15,250 on their bachelor’s degree (savings assumes transferring 10 credits).
- Payment plans
Paying out of pocket for tuition can feel more manageable with payment plans. Strayer offers this option through TouchNet, allowing you to pay your tuition in installments with no interest or hidden fees. And your payments will process automatically on each due date, so it’s a great way to take something off your to-do list.
Learn more about tuition and financial aid at Strayer University, and get in touch with an Admissions Officer to discuss your specific background and questions.
Published Date: SEPTEMBER 6, 2023