How to Pay for College

by Contributor
Getting that degree will typically require thousands of dollars in tuition.

Students with good grades can easily get accepted into colleges and universities. Paying for four years of higher education, however, is a whole other challenge. Fortunately, there are many ways to pay for college. Whether you seek a work-study program or a low-interest loan, the choices are plentiful.

Apply for a federal student loan. This is the easiest loan to get for several reasons. For starters, federal loans are not credit-based, which lets a person with bad credit or no credit history apply and get approved. These loans provide money for undergraduate and graduate studies. Plus, repayment doesn't start until nine months after graduation.

Ask your parents to apply for a Direct PLUS Loan (see Resources). Such loans can be used to pay for the child's education expenses if certain eligibility criteria are met. PLUS loans are a little different from standard student loans. With this type of financial aid, parents are responsible for the loan payments. In addition, an acceptable credit history is a requirement.

Seek out a private student loan. The federal government establishes a yearly loan limit. Often, a student's tuition exceeds the loan amount, and she has to seek additional resources. Banks and other lenders offer private student loans. The money can pay for tuition, books and other miscellaneous expenses. Unfortunately, a good credit history is required. Moreover, private students loans carry higher interest rates.

Join the military. Upon graduation, enlist in the Army for three years, or enlist as an active reserve for six years and take advantage of the Army's loan repayment program. This program will pay off your federal student loans up to $65,000.

Check with your employer about tuition reimbursement. Some employers offer incentives such as tuition reimbursement to qualifying employees, and partial reimbursement to their spouses and children. Of course, some employers outline specific guidelines. For example, upon graduation, the employee is usually required to stay at the company for a set period.

Consider taking part in the Federal Work-Study (FWS) program at your university. In 2009, the program provided aid to nearly a million university students at more than 3,400 campuses.

Photo Credits

  • Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images