Preparing for College Financially

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Guest Blog Post By Nicole Nixon at


A college education isn’t cheap, but it may be one of the best investments you can make. While the unemployment rate is about 9.4 percent, it is significantly higher – 15 percent – for people with only a high school diploma. The average cost of one year of out-of-state tuition and fees is almost $12,000 at a four-year public university – a steep price – but well worth it if you consider the unemployment rate and average yearly income of people with a college education compared with those without one. Here are some tips to help you pay for college without having to accumulate too much debt to deal with after graduation:

  1. Research all possible resources. Students are often awarded scholarships and grants that never need to be repaid, so these are the first funding options to consider. Colleges, organizations, communities and companies all offer scholarships, so research your options and apply for every scholarship and grant for which you are eligible. Ask your high school or college counselor for a list of scholarships and grants. Apply for scholarships at every school you’re considering; sometimes a scholarship offer will be the deciding factor in which school you ultimately attend.
  2. Fill in a FAFSA. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid can help you obtain grants from the government to pay for school. Federal aid awards depend on your parents’ yearly income – until you’re 26 – as well as how many dependents they support and how many of those dependents are also currently in college.
  3. Take out a loan. This option should be your last resort. Student debt can follow you for years after graduation, so only apply for a loan if you feel that it’s your only option. Look for subsidized or low-interest loans, such as loans from Sallie Mae or Nellie Mae.
  4. Make a deal with your parents. Most parents are willing to help you out financially when you’re in college. Tell them that if they pay for your tuition, you’ll pay for your own books and fees, or that you’ll pay for the final two years of your education if they cover the first two years. Get a job, even if it’s only 10 hours per week, to let them know you’re serious about college and can pay for some of your own expenses.
  5. Live at home. Living at home while attending a nearby school eliminates the cost of rent and food. Living on campus can be very expensive and can sometimes require a meal plan, even if you plan to cook your own food in your dorm.
  6. Attend online schools. Taking classes online cuts rent, food and commuting costs. Online school schedules are much more flexible, so you could work more hours while attending an online school. It’s a great way to save money while you’re in school. For more information about online school degrees, check out
  7. Take a year off after high school. Consider taking a break between high school and college to learn to become independent, whether by travelling, working or volunteering. The point of this “gap year” is to learn how to live on your own and get an idea of how much everything really costs, even if you get weekly account transfers from your parents. The experience of being on your own for several months will help prepare you for college and the rest of your life.

Thanks to NorthOrion for their guest post on our blog! You can visit their website at


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