One of the first thoughts after being accepted to college is usually, “Now how do I pay for this?!” The current costs of tuition are staggering, but there are several options for paying for college without going broke. It is worth the research and effort to explore all options, in particular assistance that does not need to be repaid like grants and scholarships.
Paying for Tuition
The first step in beginning your quest for financial aid should be to fill out your FAFSA at https://fafsa.ed.gov/. Filling out this document will tell you what government aid you qualify for, including grants, loans, and other programs like work-study.
It is a good idea to always accept all grants first, and then figure out what additional funding you may need after that amount is deducted from your tuition. Grants do not need to be re-paid if you graduate, but beware, dropping out of school can mean you have to repay the full amount you accepted.
The next best form of funding for college expenses after grants are scholarships. Scholarships do not need to be re-paid (under most types) and can be awarded for a variety of reasons. There are scholarships for all sorts of interests and activities. Some are based on merit, some are based on sports performance, and some are based on where you live.
The William Threlkeld Scholarship
RMLEFCU members that are in high school or college are eligible to apply for the William Threlkeld Scholarship. Four deserving members/students will be awarded the scholarship based on academic performance (a 3.0 GPA or higher), community involvement, and the potential to succeed at the college level. 2017 applications are due by July 31, to apply, fill out this application and mail to:
Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement Federal Credit Union
attn: Threlkeld Scholarship
10025 Park Meadow Drive
Lone Tree, CO 80135
Loans for college expenses come in two forms: government and private; both of which must be paid back plus interest. Through your FAFSA you will find out if you qualify for any government loans. Subsidized government loans are better than unsubsidized or private loans because you will not accrue interest while in school.
If after receiving grants, scholarships, and subsidized loans you still need cash for school, your next step is to decide between an unsubsidized government loan or a private loan. Choose whichever has a lower interest rate (hint: this won’t always be the government loan!). Another option is to use your parent’s home as collateral for a low interest loan. This could be in the form of a home equity loan or home equity line of credit.
As far as personal expenses while you are a student, some grants or scholarships allow for personal expenses. Only use these though if you have all school expenses (like tuition and books) covered first.
The ideal way to pay for personal expenses while in school is with a part time job or work study program. You want to minimize student debt as much as possible, so going into more debt for living expenses can put you into a bad cycle of increasing your debt each year.
College costs are intimidating for every student, but there are a large number of ways to pay for these expenses without graduating completely broke. Research your options, apply for every scholarship under the sun, and only accrue debt when necessary.