Ways to Attend College for Free
The cost of attending to college is a huge topic nowadays. With skyrocketing tuition prices, the spotlight on student loan debt, and a difficult job market, many people are asking: is college worth it?
Many people think that it’s impossible to graduate without a heap of debt. Unfortunately for many, this has been their reality. In America, around 46 million adults have student loan debt from attending college. With an average monthly payment of $300, this debt weighs heavy on the American people. Yet, earning a degree is still a necessity for many. To enter the job market and get the career of your dreams, you often need a degree of some kind. While some companies are dropping that requirement for entry positions, you often still need an education to get promoted.
However, student loans aren’t the only way to get access to an education. Truly, there are a variety of ways you can escape the debt. Whether you find an option that pays for your entire tuition or just a portion, every cent matters.
Keep reading below to learn about your options and the ways you can attend college for free.
Ways to Go to College for Free
Apply for Scholarships and Grants
Grants and scholarships are probably the most well-known type of aid out there. Yet, they are severely underutilized by the public. A 2021 study by Sallie Mae showed that 44% of families never apply for scholarship aid. Scholarships are free aid that students and their families can apply for. You never have to repay scholarship funds.
Often companies or individuals will offer scholarships for students of specific backgrounds, who have good grades, who excel in specific skills, and more. Millions of dollars in scholarships are available across the country. Considering the fact that 70% of all students have student debt by the time they graduate, it’s surprising that so many don’t apply for the money available to them.
According to the Sallie Mae study, families simply aren’t aware of the money available for their children. On the other hand, many students didn’t apply because they didn’t think they would win or they thought the applications took too much time. Truly, spending ten minutes on a form can potentially prevent thousands of dollars in debt.
In the end, if you’re looking for funding for your tuition, take that extra time to research the scholarships and apply. You never know if the scholarship board will see something in your application and pick you.
However, it’s important to note that not every scholarship out there is worth your time. Keep an eye out for scholarship scams. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Quality scholarships will require quality work from their applicants. This usually means an essay, proof of top grades, creative or sports skills, or volunteer work. Never pay to apply for a scholarship or send money to a company of any kind.
Scholarships are considered charitable actions for the companies and individuals that offer them. Thus, anyone asking for money or labor in return is suspicious.
Similar to scholarships, grants are available to students who meet certain criteria. Just the same, you never need to repay grant money. However, grants are available based on financial need, rather than grades or skills. There is often no essay requirement, but students will need to provide documentation that proves their financial struggles.
Notably, students can receive the federal PELL grant for up to six years of undergraduate studies. To receive these funds, individuals simply need to fill out the FAFSA application.
You’ll need to submit your most recent tax information to apply. Additionally, if you still live with your parents or guardians while attending school, they’ll need to submit their information as well. If you qualify for the PELL, your university will receive the tuition payment directly from the government. If you have other scholarships or aid, you may sometimes qualify for a refund. Truly, it is smartest to use this money for education-related needs. You might use it on a new computer, your textbooks, or in the cafeteria as you study on campus.
In addition to federal grants, universities may offer their own grants to fund your education. Sometimes these grants will follow the same requirements as federal options. Universities may cover any gaps left after PELL. Or, they may have less strict requirements. For example, if your parents make too much for you to qualify with FAFSA, you may still be able to qualify with your university.
Finally, you can also seek private grants to fund your tuition. Private grants often require you to work in a certain field of study. For example, there are a number of agricultural grants available, such as those provided by the Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program.
Regardless of if you’re studying the arts or sciences, there is likely a grant out there for you. Do you research and you may find the help you need to attend school.
Tuition-Free Programs for Community Colleges
Students who meet eligibility requirements can attend specified community colleges for free. Community colleges are already a great and affordable option for those looking to earn for their associate degree.
Notably, without tuition-free programs, the average community college tuition in the United States runs at $4,864 per year. Compared to the average $46,950 of a private non-profit university, community college is already a great deal. With the addition of their financial aid programs, many students can attend for low or no cost.
However, not all community colleges offer such a program. In 2021, The College Post put together a list of the 19 states with tuition-free programs in place. As with any option, it’s important to research your options and the schools you’re interested in. Additionally, make sure you reach out to the financial aid department. There may be options that aren’t advertised and they may be able to connect you to other resources.
Serve in the Military
Joining a branch of the military comes with a variety of educational benefits. As a result of your service, you can earn your education under the GI Bill®. The GI Bill® has a few additional requirements, such as your discharge status, time served, and education status. While you must sacrifice a lot of time and effort to earn this opportunity, you may wind up with your entire tuition covered.
Additionally, you can earn college credit as you serve. Many military training programs count towards your future degree. Additionally, several branches allow you to begin your studies before your service is up. All active-duty military are eligible for tuition assistance through the Post-9 / 11 GI Bill® and other tuition payment programs.
So, if you were looking for another reason to enlist, look no further than the educational benefits.
For many, the thought of enrolling in a university often brings the image of student loans, debt, and endless monthly payments. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are a variety of options available for students. You simply need to know what to look for and do your research.
While those scholarship applications may appear daunting, they can cover thousands of dollars of your tuition. A little time spicing up an essay is well-worth the money you’ll save down the line.
Not sure where to start? Lakewood University is famous for its quality online programs. After completing the courses, you will have the ability to earn income in high-demand occupations. Lakewood University also has Financial Aid for the support of its students. 99.2% of graduates graduate debt-free. So get connected with Lakewood University and start the first step towards your dreams!
GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Website at https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.