We have now established that college is expensive and have giving you some great ideas to save on college costs, but it will never be completely free, you will need some money. Your parents’ paychecks will only go so far, what else is there to do?
The first option is to apply to scholarships. Scholarships can give you anywhere from $100 to your full college tuition. When you are applying to colleges, check with your guidance counselor about local scholarships. These are often the easiest scholarships for you to get. This doesn’t mean they are super easy, just that most of them will only be open to those in your school and you will have a bigger chance.
When you have applied to a school or two, look at any scholarships they offer. There might be a scholarships designed for your area of study or more broad scholarships. Some college scholarships aren’t offered to freshman, so remember to check back often while in college.
Finally, I strongly recommend you open up an account with fastweb. It’s a great place to find scholarships tailored to your talents and qualifications that you couldn’t find at your school. There are many essay scholarships that you could win, even if you think you never could with your grades. Many of the scholarships are drawings that you don’t need to do a thing for just as long as you’re a certain age.
The earlier you start entering into these scholarships the more likely you will get one for two reasons. First, the more you enter the better your chances. Second, if you end up writing lots of essays, as you go they will get better and better. Your improved writing skills will improve your chances of getting some cash for college.
Make sure you take these scholarships seriously. There’s no point in entering to win a scholarship with an essay you spent 30 minutes on that you didn’t proofread. You probably won’t win. Take the time to look it over and research if necessary. Ask a teacher to look it over and give you tips.
Don’t rule out the more complicated scholarships. It might seem like too much work for something you wouldn’t get anyway. How many other people do you think are thinking that way? If everyone thinks “why bother” that means there are less people entering and you’re more likely to win.
The same goes for the scholarships that took you a while to find. The scholarships that are being advertised all over might get thousands of entrants and be much harder to win. That’s no reason not to apply for those, though.
College Savings Plans
In addition to scholarships, you and your parents can start saving ahead of time. If you are only just starting high school or, even better, still in middle school or younger, you can start saving and save a lot for college.
If you aren’t sure where to start, check out upromise.com. If you just start putting away money into a savings account, your money will grow very slowly. With upromise.com, you can start a 529 savings plan.
With a 529 plan, your parents can put money away into an investment and they won’t have to pay taxes on it so you can save even more. The money will grow much faster than in a low interest savings account because it’s being invested.
Another great thing about upromise.com is how you can earn money. If your parents join, they can earn points that go towards savings from shopping online, eating out, using their credit card, and more. This will help boost your savings even more.
Finally, when you are ready to start college, they will help you find loans and grants to pay for college.
It’s a great program to bring everything together when trying to save and pay for college.