Investing In Your Future

6 Ways to Pay for Your Education

Finishing your degree can help you find new career opportunities and even higher pay. But one of the biggest challenges in returning to school can be figuring out how to cover the cost. Here are 6 ways to finance your education expenses and apply for financial aid.

 # 1 Grants: student aid that does not require repayment (unless you withdraw)

  • Federal Pell Grant: This is a grant available to part-time and full-time students with financial need. If you take fewer than 6 credits in a traditional semester, you are considered less than part-time, and you will not be eligible for grants.
  • Other Federal Grants: There are a few other grant options for teachers, veterans, and other specific populations. Learn more at http://studentaid.ed.gov.
  • State Grants: The Washington State Need Grant (SNG) program helps the state’s lowest-income undergraduate students pursue degrees, hone skills, or retrain for new careers Learn more at http://readysetgrad.org/college/state-need-grant

# 2 Loans: borrowed funds that need to be repaid with interest once you stop attending school (whether by graduating or stopping out)

  • Federal student loans: Offered by the federal government, these loans offer low, fixed interest rates as well as numerous repayment options including loan deferment for those who return to college, experience financial hardship, or enroll in a national service program.
  • Private student loans: Offered by banks and private lenders, interest rates on these loans fluctuate, depending on the market rates. You should carefully review and consider your need for private loans, taking them only as a last resort.

REMEMBER: Borrow only what you need.  Every penny you borrow will need to be repaid with interest when you graduate.

# 3 Employer Tuition Assistance: Find out if your employer has tuition assistance or reimbursement, and make sure to learn about the application process and guidelines to receive this benefit.

# 4 Scholarships: Scholarships are available through colleges and through local and national foundations.  Start by asking your college about their scholarships, and then also research scholarships using the links on Greater Minds’ website.

 # 5 Savings: If you determine the out-of-pocket cost of attendance for your college program per semester, you can begin to budget accordingly.  Try to set a realistic goal for the amount of your tuition and fees you can afford to pay upfront, even if it is a small amount.

# 6 Community College: For in-state students, community colleges are sometimes the most affordable option, but you must also consider time to degree completion in your calculation.  If you plan to go on for your Bachelor’s degree, you can often save money by getting your Associate’s degree at a community college and then transferring.

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