How To Pay For College

by Banning Lutzenberger

Article by Banning Lutzenberger. Photo by Abby Conn.

After the excitement fades from receiving that college admission letter, reality quickly sets in for parents and students. 

College costs a lot and can be overwhelming for families. But there are ways to make it less of a burden.

If you aren’t fortunate enough to have someone paying for your education, there are several options for you, according to Epic’s College and Career Services office. 

You could attend community college to get some college hours. Tuition is usually a lot cheaper at a community college, and you can work while learning and cut expenses by living at home.

Another way to pay for college is to apply for student loans. There are two types of student loans, federal and private. 

Federal student loans are obtained by filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as FAFSA. 

Private loans must be obtained from a local bank or credit union. All loans must be repaid, but federal loans are more flexible in their repayment plans. 

Both federal and private loans have their pros and cons and should be examined closely before signing paperwork. 

There are also many types of scholarships available to help pay for college. 

Epic’s advisors said students don’t have to be at the top of the class to receive a scholarship. There are multiple ways of receiving a scholarship. The financial aid office at the college may be able to help the student get one. 

Getting a scholarship has many benefits. One of the main disadvantages of a scholarship might be maintaining the required GPA. 

Scholarships are available for many different types of students. Some are grade-based. Others are solely for certain majors, ethnic groups or students at specific colleges. Still others are tied to one’s income level. 

Students should look closely at requirements before applying, as each scholarship is unique. 

Other ways to pay for college require more planning but can make a huge difference. 

One example is the state’s 529 Plan. This is an account at a financial institution that has been set up by parents or grandparents to help pay for college. Both federal and state income tax benefits are the main advantage of having this type of account. The main disadvantage is the funds must be used for education, with a few exceptions. 

It’s not for everyone, but military service can be perfect for some students.The military offers 100% tuition for active-duty service members and reservists. The armed forces also offer federal financial aid, which can be used by active-duty service members and veterans. 

The armed services also offer discounted or waived tuition for military students and their dependents at some colleges and universities.  

Also, each branch of the military will pay for tuition, books, fees and stipends but require service as a commissioned officer after graduation through participation in ROTC programs. Students must be selected to receive ROTC scholarships and must make the post-college military service commitment. 

Regardless of a student’s means, options to offset the college costs are available.

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