To make it through college/university, it’s helpful to know about the different ways of acquiring financial aid. While top athletes and valedictorians are prestigious scholarship holders, the rest of us need to figure out how to pay for our education. The average cost of a single year in an institution is in the tens of thousands of dollars. And the expenses approximately double (and sometimes triple) if one decides to go to study abroad or attend an elite institution. The debt can rack up to quite quickly if we’re not careful. So, what are the options if you do not have a full ride? Let’s take a look:
Scholarships are a great and free way to bypass most, if not all of the fees regarding post-secondary expenses. There is seemingly an endless buffet of awards rewarding all sorts of different achievements. Whether it be an exceptional previous academic achievement, a sporting talent, or anything in between, there is no shortage of supply. They can be tricky to apply for, and also, there are many more students competing for that exact scholarship. The odds are steeply stacked against you. So, instead of looking for nation-wide awards where your chances are marginal, you should start with local (or exclusive) ones, in your hometown.
When you’ve exhausted all potential scholarship opportunities locally, you should check out the options your college or university offers. There are always many forms of financial aid that are designed to aid you in keeping the tuition expenses low. Some of those will be based on your previous academic merit. If your academic record does not qualify you, or your school didn’t have such award programs, you might still have financial aid available. Depending on your year in school, ethnic belonging, or field of study, you can be eligible for different funding programs. If you apply to more niche places, your chances improve. If you meet the necessary qualifications, an application should be submitted. And if you do not win the scholarship, you could next year, with a little more post-secondary experience under your name.
If you are employed, concurrently with your studies you can look into relevant company programs. Sometimes, you can reap the benefits from programs that involve the employer’s children, and sometimes even extended family. In the first case, you should contact the human resources department and inform yourself of the necessary qualifications needed any such scholarships. And if your employer does not offer scholarships, that does not mean they are not open to ideas. The previous method still stands—approach them with the idea, and you might be met an open attitude at the very least. Having such an initiative could pay off significantly for you. As for the second part, you shouldn’t restrict yourself to our your own employer. Your entire family tree can make you eligible for some scholarship, somewhere.
One of the most commonly used options is applying for a personal loan. Banks typically have stricter financial prerequisites for granting loans. Often to qualify you need some sort of proof, such as work history and decent credit score, and someone to co-sign. Thanks to the power of the internet, there are plenty of methods for you to get funding, and that includes acquiring loans. Peer-to-peer lending is increasingly on the rise as the most convenient and middleman-free alternative. Companies such as Our Money Market offer different lending options similar to previously mentioned banking institutions. If you are trying to avoid the associated costs with traditional private student loans, there are plenty of flexible solutions.
And if you are going the loan route, consider getting a line of credit. Unlike a traditional loan where you borrow one set amount, pay it back on a regular schedule and have to re-apply if you need more coin, a line of credit is “revolving”. This means you get approved for a set amount to borrow, and can use the credit again after you’ve paid it back. With the CIBC Education Line of Credit, you pay only for the interest while you’re in school and 12 months after you graduate, meaning you don’t start paying back the principle until a year after you’re out of school (and you’ve hopefully got a steady “real world” paycheque).
Paying all the expenses associated with you post-secondary education is not an easy feat to accomplish. It takes some getting around and the know-how on finding the appropriate scholarship programs. If you use these student financial aid programs, you’ll be able to significantly reduce your debt. In this day and age, information is readily available to you at your fingertips. It is up to you to calculate which one makes the most sense for your current situation.
A $35,000 Prize
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.