If you speak to any college graduate, one of the biggest negatives to obtaining a degree is the potential for so much debt. A big source of debt for millions of Americans is that which comes from student loans, and it is becoming such a huge problem that a lot of people don’t even consider college because they don’t think they will be able to afford it. Stress and anxiety about debt should not be the only reason why you choose not to continue schooling, however, when there are so many other options available. Some alternatives to student loans include scholarships, federal grants, and even community college.
One of the best ways to avoid taking on massive amounts of student loans is scholarships. Scholarships are awards that are made up of donations, both from large organizations as well as common individuals. These awards do not have to be paid back and can oftentimes be a large amount of money that can take a big chunk off of your college expenses. They are based on a variety of different criteria, including grade point average, race, gender, extracurricular activities, or financial need. Many scholarships require you fill out an application and then answer some additional questions or submit an essay. Another benefit of scholarships is that there is no limit to how many you can apply and qualify for, so the amount of money you can be awarded is truly endless.
Grants are another type of award that helps you pay for college and does not have to be paid back. Grants are distributed by the federal government and are typically awarded based on financial need. There are a multitude of grants that can be given for many different reasons, but some of the most common grants that are distributed include:
- Federal Pell Grants
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)
- Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants
- Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants
All of these are provided by the United States Department of Education and are made up of varying amounts. There are many services that can help you find out if you qualify for a federal grant, but a great place to start is by talking to an advisor at the school you are interested in.
Something to considerFor the 2015-2016 school year, the average tuition for a public university was $9,410 for in-state students and $23,893 for out-of-state residents. Compare those rates to that of a private school, which averaged $32,405.
Another alternative to taking out large amounts of student loans is first attending a community college. Community colleges cost much less than four-year colleges or universities, so the price to attend is significantly lower. They are also much smaller than these other institutions, so the scholarships they are able to provide tend to be more in quantity, sometimes even completely covering the cost of tuition.
Whether you are going to college for the first time, or are heading back after some time in the work force, it is an exciting time that is not to be taken for granted. While being able to go to school may be considered a privilege, graduating with massive amounts of student loan debt is nothing to be happy about. Luckily, through scholarships, grants, and community college, you can save thousands of dollars while accomplishing your goal of obtaining your college degree.