The cost of higher education in the USA has increased by 25% in the last decade, while the collective student debt has reached $1.56 trillion. That being said, this doesn’t mean a student loan isn’t a viable option for your specific financial situation. But, it’s prudent to explore alternatives to student loans, before you make your final decision. So, if you’re looking for alternative ways to fund your studies, in this article, we’ve selected four important facts that you should take into consideration.
What you need to know about grants is that they are provided by the federal, state government, or in some instances by a non-profit organization. This is a type of financial aid, which doesn’t require you to repay your grant. However, keep in mind that there are several instances when you have to pay back a portion of your grant, for example, if you change your enrollment status or you drop out of the program.
Grants are being awarded based on your financial situation, specifically, for students that come from low-income families. In fact, the Pell Grant is a good option for undergraduate students from low-income families. There are several advantages to this grant, including a fast application process, flexible terms, priority when accessing more aid through other programs, and other benefits. You can learn more about the grant here.
Otherwise, the grants can also be merit-based, which means you’re awarded a grant based on your hobby, academic achievements, ethnicity, religion, talent in athletics, music, etc.
Scholarships are another type of financial aid that doesn’t need to be repaid. They can be need-based or merit-based, which means they can be awarded based on academic performance, personal background, community service, and other traits.
Although you’ll find a scholarship program offered by your university or college, they are also offered by a number of different charities, foundations, businesses, and other organizations. There are different types of scholarships, including full scholarships, renewable scholarships, scholarships for international students, to name a few.
A work-study program is a great way to reduce your costs while you work part-time on campus. Also, some jobs might be related to your field, and you will gain invaluable professional experience. This program is available for both undergraduate and postgraduate students. To qualify for the program, you must be a student from a low-income family, already enrolled, or accepted for enrollment, and you need to complete a FAFSA application.
Tuition Reimbursement is offered as part of the benefits package, and companies use this program to attract and retain their best employees who will improve their skills and knowledge by obtaining a BA or MBA. But you need to keep in mind that with this option, you need to pay up-front your tuition fees, and after you’ve completed the semester or your course, for example, the company will refund your costs, partially or the entire amount.
The program might differ from employer to employer, so make sure to do your own research and check if you’re eligible. Some companies require students to stay in the company for a specific period of time, for example. High-profile companies that offer tuition reimbursement are Starbucks, Procter & Gamble, AT&T, Verizon, among others.
Most students won’t rely solely on one source to finance their college degrees. This means that you should explore various resources, from student loans to scholarships, grants, savings. So, when you have a better idea about the opportunities available to you, you can create a budget that reflects your financial situation and future goals.