It’s no secret that college is expensive. Getting into college is always exciting, and then comes the task of finding a way to pay for it!
The good news is that you can start planning for the financial aspect of your college education right now. In fact, the earlier you start, the better.
Below you will find five ways you can fund your education beyond high school, with a creative spin.
Find part-time work that matches your interests.
If you already know you want to attend higher education after high school, go ahead and start saving whatever money you can now. That might mean also looking for ways to earn extra money to help offset those college costs.
Most high school students are familiar with part-time jobs. However, a fun way to make part-time work more creative is to try and find work that somehow matches your interests.
For example, if you are interested in becoming a teacher, perhaps you can find a tutoring job. If you’re interested in the medical field, you might be able to work part-time at a hospital or doctor’s office. You might work as a pet sitter if you are interested in the veterinary field.
Maybe you’re interested in the arts and can find an assistant position for a local artist or photographer. Looking to study pre-law? See if a law office in your town needs an administrative assistant. The possibilities are endless!
Most importantly, if you find a part-time job that feels more creative and fun, or at least tied to your future interests and goals, you are likely to get more out of it. And you’ll make extra money at the same time!
Research unique scholarships.
Most students also already know that they can apply for scholarships. But did you know that you can specifically apply for scholarships that are related to your interests? You might also be surprised to discover scholarship resources you might not have considered.
You can often find scholarships that are suited for specific fields of study like STEM-related fields, the arts, business/entrepreneurship, or community service. Various websites are devoted to scholarship searches, and you can filter your search results based on your intended major, interests, state, etc.
Also, you can get creative when it comes to where you look for scholarships. Scholar communities and organizations like NSHSS offer both college and high school scholarships for members. Additionally, you can ask local businesses if they offer scholarships, or find out if your family members’ companies offer scholarships for students. In addition, search to discover if your desired college or university has an alumni network that raises money for scholarships every year.
These are all creative sources of scholarships, and even when you seek many smaller scholarships, the scholarship funds can add up quickly to help you pay for college.
Explore local college access grants.
For students who come from lower income families or need help gaining resources to prepare for higher education opportunities, the Department of Education has created the College Access Challenge Grant Program.
This program helps to create partnerships between local and state governments and organizations to allow students greater access to educational and funding opportunities that will help them with their readiness for postsecondary education.
These different programs might include help navigating the financial aid process, information about how to tackle financial planning, and more.
Take a look at the CACGP website to see how you might take advantage of one of these opportunities if you should qualify.
Apply for federal financial aid.
This might not seem like a creative option, but filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Form is one of the most important ways you can guarantee you will get the financial help you need to attend college.
Even if you don’t think you will qualify for financial aid based on your household income or financial situation, you should still apply. You might qualify for aid based on situations in your home you might not have considered, like the number of dependents in your household who are attending college simultaneously.
And if you and your parents need help filling out the FAFSA form, check out some FAFSA tips for parents with strategies for making sure you get the financial aid you need for higher education.
Spend less, save more.
Finally, this tip will not only help you pay for college but also help you with your financial health in the future: spend less and save more.
This might seem obvious, but the best way to save money is to actually be intentional about it.
You can get creative with your savings, too! Make a money box labeled the $5 box. Decorate an old shoe box however you want and cut a money-sized hole in the top. Tape it shut so you can’t get into it without breaking the tape. Then, whenever you get a $5 bill for any reason, put the $5 into the box. You’ll be surprised how quickly the money adds up!
You can also go through your spending habits and find ways to cut back and save your own money for college expenses. For example, if you notice that you buy new clothes each month, calculate how much you usually spend and don’t buy new clothes this month, or make a budget of half your normal amount.
These habits will follow you into college and beyond. So, the sooner you can start creating them, the better. And, if you start now, you’ll likely have more money saved to spend on expenses at college or university.
Chris Everett is a content writer and marketing specialist for the NSHSS, an academic honor society committed to supporting young academics on their journey to college and beyond as they prepare to become the leaders of tomorrow. Follow NSHSS on Twitter or Facebook for more news and tips like these.