Financial Aid Basics: How to Finance your Education for Any Type of Degree

ALICIA LAPERUTA | May 22, 2019

Pursuing higher education on any level, whether undergraduate or graduate, is a step in the right direction. However, if you do that, you won’t just have to worry about school tuition fees. You will also have to consider the cost of accommodation and study materials. We are familiar with the struggle many academics face. Hence, we mention some ways you can finance your education for any type of degree:

Start with a Need-Based Educational Grant

As its name would suggest, you will only qualify for this kind of grant if you can demonstrate that you need financial assistance. You may apply to the financial aid office of the training facility or university you have chosen for this kind of grant. Why do most students prefer a grant over other methods of financial aid? Because usually, grants don’t have to be repaid. Check out some options here.

Declare Yourself to be Qualified as an Independent Student

Depending on whether you meet the requirements, you could declare yourself an independent student. The Higher Education Act’s definition of a dependent isn’t the same as that of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). So, you may have to do some research.

But here are some of the eligibility requirements. You must be a:

  • 24 or older by the time you will receive the award
  • A ward of the court
  • Married
  • Serving in the Forces or a veteran
  • Professional student
  • Have dependents of your own, i.e., other than a spouse
  • Some other unusual circumstances

Get Yourself a Scholarship

Merit-based scholarships are awarded to students for academic excellence. Usually, they come in the form of a financial award. You may find it surprising, but such scholarships don’t just consider your grades. Have you excelled in school in other ways? How about having played a leadership role? Look at your ACT or SAT scores. Maybe they can help you qualify for the scholarship. Other achievements in extracurricular, school, or community-based activities count as well. A scholarship such as this one is a great way for financing because the amount awarded isn’t influenced by Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

Search for opportunities that won’t just cover the cost of going to college partially. Some scholarships can take students all the way through the four-year college period. Others are continued based on your consistent performance in the later years.

Look into the State Loan Programs for Supplemental Funding

Ideally, you should consider this as your last option. Even though a state-based loan will have benefits, such as low interest and fixed rates, you’d still have to pay it back. The terms of these loans are similar to that of federal loans. However, a state usually doesn’t have reserves as deep as the federal government would. With such loans, you may also enjoy flexible repayment options. The state will forego a credit check as well.

Remember, the rules and the amount loaned will vary from state to state. So, do your homework!

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Work Study

The Federal Work-Study program allows students to hold down part-time jobs while they complete their studies. They are a viable option for both undergraduate and graduate students. If you enter this program, you’d most likely find yourself doing community service work. Besides that, you may also be assigned work that is related to the courses you are taking.

The Federal Work-Study program is available for students:

  • On all levels, including undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate students
  • Taking part-time or full-time classes
  • Of participant schools only. You may need to visit your institution’s financial aid office to see if they participate or not.

But beware! The Federal-Work-Study program can have some drawbacks. It is best to be informed before you decide to enter it.

Get a Job with an Employer who will Pay your Tuition Fee

If you already have a job, gently test out your employer on how they’d feel about boosting their collective skill set. Of course, for your boss to be interested in tuition reimbursement, you must be studying something related to your work. They will want to get something out of the deal that benefits the company. For instance, if you are working as an accountant, your tax courses may generate some interest. For an employee of the information technology sector, a course in computer science may do the trick.

Make your case by focusing on how they won’t have to do any hiring for the expertise they will be eventually getting. Finally, read the stipulations that may come attached to the reimbursement. Your company may want to retain you for a certain time after paying for school.

There is another option you may want to consider. Attending a brick and mortar school can be more expensive. Have you ever given thought to an online degree? It is a practical option that achieves the same objective as going to school. Furthermore, it has benefits, such as studying at your own convenience, that may clinch the deal for you!