Alternative Sources of College Financial Aid

  With so much emphasis on scholarships and grants, many students miss numerous opportunities to reduce the costs of college. Here are a few of the more common ways to slash the costs of college without winning an award.

Campus Jobs: Tuition and/or room and board can sometimes be awarded for working on campus. For example, residence hall assistants frequently qualify for this type of aid. Considering the amount of work required, this usually pays much better than the typical part-time job.

Community Colleges: Increasingly, hours from community colleges are transferable to major universities. Community colleges are far less expensive than the four-year institutions, so find out which classes you could take at the less expensive place, and then simply transfer the credit.

Credit for Life Experiences: This one may be tough for recent high school graduates, but if you have been out of school for a while and working in the real world, you may have gained experiences that can be turned into college credit. Not all schools allow this, but it is worth looking into. Even if it is just a class or two, this could result in a saving of hundreds of dollars.

Dual Credit: High school seniors can sometimes take classes on a college campus and receive credit at their high school and from the college at the same time. Keep in mind the not all schools will accept transfer credit.

Faculty/Staff Discounts: Having a parent who works at the school of your choice can be better than a scholarship. Some colleges reduce tuition as much as 100% for the children of employees. In fact, it is not uncommon for parents to take jobs at an expensive school just so their children can attend for free. Additionally, some schools participate if an exchange program with other institutions, so this discount may be transferable.

Family Discounts: If you have a brother or sister attending the same school as you, a discount on tuition may be available. Also, If your parents are alumni a similar discount is sometimes offered.

Loan Forgiveness: Some schools and government agencies may offer to repay part or all of your student loans if you are willing to work in a certain community. Health care providers, for example, may be asked to set up practice in a small, rural town. Educators may be required to take a position in an urban school that needs teachers.

Summer/Evening Hours: Because of lower enrollment during off-peak hours, significant discounts are sometimes offered for classes during these times.

Tax Credits: The Federal government offers tax credits, such as the Hope credit and the Lifetime learning credit. The Hope credit is available for only the first two years or college, but the Lifetime credit does not expire.

Your Employer: Many employers have generous programs that will pay some of the costs of college. Even if your job does not have a program in place, consider asking. This is especially true if the new skills you will learn are directly related to your work. It may be unrealistic to expect help paying for all of your classes, but you may be able to convince your boss that certain classes will make you a more productive employee.

Go to page 11:College Financial Aid FAQs