How to Pay for College – 4 Strategies to Fund Your Future

Wow, that went by fast! It’s time to head off to college, but you and your family didn’t save enough for the educational experience you’re hoping for.  Now what do you do?! Don’t worry– it’s never too late. You can use a combination of these 4 strategies to help make your college dream a reality:

#1 Federal and State Loans or Grants

Even if you don’t think you’ll qualify, apply for financial aid by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  This is the first step to getting help with a federal or state education loan. You might be surprised to learn that you qualify for more help than you thought. Every bit helps, right? 

Be sure to check with your high school guidance counselor to find out about any current state or federal educational grants. Some grants are need-based, while others are awarded for academic achievement. Grants are similar to scholarships in that you don’t usually need to pay them back! 

#2 Scholarships

There are many sources of college scholarships, if you’re willing to look and take the time to apply. Civic groups, religious organizations and businesses often provide scholarship support to graduating high school students in their local communities. Remind your parents to check with their employers to see if they offer any scholarships. There are even some trade associations that offer scholarships for students intending to study a field related to their organizations’ missions. The college you plan to attend may also offer scholarships based on financial need, academic merit, or other factors. Any combination of scholarships can help make the cost of higher education easier on your own finances. Learn more in this video “How to Find Scholarships for College”

#3 Private Loans

If your parents are helping with the cost of your college education, consider private student loans. Most students will need to apply with a co-signer – usually Mom or Dad – in order to obtain a private student loan. These are a much less expensive option than if your parents used credit cards, home equity lines of credit, or personal loans to help with your college expenses. Credit unions almost always provide the lowest rates and best terms. Learn more about our private student loans.

#4 J-O-B

Many college students juggle part-time jobs during their college years to help make ends meet. If you’re going to be a full-time student, be sure to limit the number of hours a week you plan to work, though, to save enough time for your studies. The last thing you want is for your job to interfere with your academic progress toward graduation goals. A steady paycheck (no matter how small) can help supplement the financing you’ll need for college life. Whether it’s an on-campus work study or a job off campus, both also provide critical experience and valuable life skills– WIN-WIN!


By using a combination of these 4 strategies, you can help fund your future with a strong educational experience.  Here are some other resources you might like: