It’s no secret that higher education is expensive. The average student in the United States will pay over 25 thousand dollars annually in tuition fees if they’re living in-state. For students living away from home, that number is even higher. While some families can afford that, many others can’t. There’s no shame in being from a lower-income family or community, but it can make affording college a challenge. If you want to get your degree but aren’t sure how to pay for it, the following ideas may help. 

Loan Options

The first way you can help pay for your higher education if you’re from a low-income family is by looking into loan options. While student loans can have a bit of a stigma around them, they can be handy financial tools if used correctly. Depending on the loan you get, you can spend your college years putting money in savings or making small payments toward your principal, keeping stress off your back for when you graduate. 

Along similar lines, your student loan will also help you build your credit. Many young adults go into their college years with little to no credit history. It’s not any fault of your own, it’s just a fact of your age. You haven’t had too many large purchases to make up until now, so there’s been no reason for your credit to expand. If you get a student loan, you have the opportunity to make regular payments on something, which will boost your credit score. Having a good score will make securing car loans, credit cards, and future housing much more accessible. 

Scholarships and Grants

Another way you can help pay for school while coming from a low-income household is with scholarships and grants. Unlike student loans, these programs don’t require you to pay the money you receive back. These sums of money are given based either on academic merit or financial standing. For instance, you can apply for multiple scholarships with your ACT or SAT scores, GPA, or by writing an essay application. You’ll be sent through a short application process and potentially selected. If you get in, you can potentially get thousands of dollars applied to your tuition annually. 

Grants work much the same way, except they aren’t based on your academics. Many grants are based on your community and finances at home. Some towns offer grants to their residents, while others give them to low-income families. Before you enroll in college, check out the grant programs in your area. You may be surprised by the offers just waiting for you to apply.

Work Programs

The third way to make college easier to afford when coming from a low-income household is by looking into work scholarship programs. Many schools offer some form of work scholarship or work-study for their students to lessen the financial burden of education. These jobs are usually simple tasks around campus, such as dining staff, cleaning crew, library work, or landscaping. While work scholarship jobs may not be the most interesting way to spend your time, they’ll save you money on your tuition costs. 

Similarly, getting a job should be one of your first moves if you’re worried about affording college. If you have transportation while you’re at school, look for employment off-campus. If you don’t, remote work can be your new best friend. There are many employers that are jumping at the chance to hire capable college students to fill positions, you just need to put yourself out there.

However, if you plan on working while you’re in college, time management is crucial. Make sure you don’t overstretch yourself with work and end up forgetting about your studies. Ultimately, you’re at college to learn. While you may need to work in order to afford school, you need ample time for homework, studying, and attending classes. Don’t be afraid to build your work schedule around your college.

Overall, coming from a low-income household shouldn’t stop you from pursuing a degree. With these tips, you can make the financial strain of college easier to bear and get through college with less stress.

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