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Paying for College: 5 Options to Consider (page 2)

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Updated on May 28, 2014

Amy Weinstein, Executive Director of the National Scholarship Providers Association (NSPA), encourages families to take the time to look into scholarships. “There’s money out there in scholarships,” Weinstein says. “Our members in 2008 gave out over a billion dollars in scholarships.”

Weinstein says students should look into their local community foundations and talk to the financial aid office where they’re enrolled. “You’d be surprised by the number of people who give money to their local foundation to make sure more kids from that community go to college,” Weinstein says. “Same thing with alumni. A lot of people give money to their alma maters so the school can finance more students’ education.”

Here are some other ideas for financing college:

  1. Community College Attending community college for two years and then transferring to a four-year institution will cut costs significantly and better prepare some students for the rigors of the university environment. Check out the community college in your local area to find out about tuition.
  2. Loan Forgiveness As of 2007, many public service professions qualify for federal student loan forgiveness after ten years of full-time work and the required monthly loan payments. Professions include law enforcement, nonprofit professional, public librarians, and many more. Learn more about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program at the Department of Education website.
  3. Establishing Residency Many students have their heart set on a particular public institution in another state. Taking a year off, moving to the state, and establishing residency can cut the costs in half in some cases and is a good option for those who know which public institution they’d like to attend.
  4. Taking Time Off Taking a year or two off can do more than just help a prospective student establish residency. Many teenagers don’t have the desire to go directly to school. For these teens, taking a year or two to work and save money and see what the world of bill-paying is really like can be very beneficial. And besides, there’s always touring the country in a beat-up car or backpacking across Europe—experiences that can almost only be had before or during the college years. There’s a lot to be said for these experiences.
  5. Top-Tier School Financial Aid Packages Those students with exceptional grades or other nonacademic skills and talents should not shy away from applying to the top-tier schools of choice. According to Edie Irons, many of these schools have very generous financial aid packages that greatly reduce or eliminate student loans altogether. Top-tier institutions, especially some of the more costly private schools, are making an effort to attract and keep strong students. For more information about these schools, visit the Project on Student Debt.
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