6 Ways to Get Help Paying for College

Jon O'Donnell Updated on November 2, 2018

Getting ready to dive into the college application process? It’s an exciting time with many questions to consider.

“How do we pay for college?” is one of the biggest questions people have. Nitro has put together a short roundup of funding options and ideas to get you started.

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1. Apply for federal financial aid

Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), a form that will determine your eligibility for student financial aid.

The FAFSA is the path to getting federal financial aid – such as grants, work-study and federal student loans – that can be used to pay for college. 

Through the FAFSA, you can get:

  • Need-based aid that does not need to be paid back, such as grants or scholarships.
  • Need-based, government-subsidized loans that you pay back after graduating. Subsidized loans are low-interest and the interest does not begin accruing until you graduate.
  • Unsubsidized government student loans. With these loans, the interest does accrue while you’re in school, but they often come with a lower interest rate and flexible payment options. 

2. Apply for scholarships

There are thousands of scholarships available to help you pay for college. Schools, private companies, nonprofits, professional associations, civic groups and many other organizations offer scholarships.

To find scholarships that may be a good fit for you, talk with guidance counselors at your high school, contact college financial aid offices, do online searches, and talk with people in your community who may be good sources of information about local scholarships.

Nitro has also put together a helpful guide to scholarships.

3. Find a work-study job through your college

The federal work study program helps eligible students get part-time jobs on- or off-campus to help pay for college. If you’ve submitted the FAFSA and you qualify, you can apply for your college’s work-study positions.

See also: What Is A Work -Study Program In College?

4. Find a part-time job

If a work-study job isn’t a possibility, check into part-time jobs in the area that will work well with your class and study load.

See also: Why College Students Should Work—But Only 12 Hours a Week

5. Write a financial aid appeal letter

These letters allow you to explain any special circumstances that you believe will support a change in a college’s aid decision.

If there has been a significant change in your family's circumstances, such as unemployment, divorce, or a serious medical issue, an appeal letter gives you a chance to make a case for an adjusted aid amount. Read more about how to write an appeal letter.

6. Take out a private student loan

If you’ve explored all of your other avenues and still need help, there are reputable lenders that can help bridge the gap.

At Nitro, we vet lending institutions to find trustworthy lenders who will offer you the best deals. See our picks for the best banks for private student loans

For more ideas, download our helpful Nitro guide: 10 Ways to Solve Last-Minute Tuition Gaps.

Published in: How to Pay for College

About the Author
Jon O'Donnell

Jon O'Donnell is a staff writer and marketer who is passionate about bringing transparency to the student loan process. Jon has a long history of connecting people with educational opportunities to help them improve their careers and their personal finances. When Jon isn't informing people about how to make smart financial decisions, you can probably find him in the kitchen attempting to cook up something delicious. Read more by Jon O'Donnell

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