STUDENT LIFE / OCT. 20, 2016
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How to Fund Your Education

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Going to college opens up new and exciting career paths, but it can be very expensive. Have you thought about how you are going to fund your studies?

Higher education has many benefits. Apart from getting a degree, you also have the chance to equip yourself with invaluable experience in the field you are interested in and create an impressive CV that can help you land a job.

The only downside to it is that you have to pay for it. Financing your studies can be a serious problem. Unless you're getting a scholarship, your employer or the bank of mum and dad, you will need to search for alternative ways to fund your education. Obviously, you are not alone in this, and many students find themselves struggling with the same financial dilemmas. Obtaining sufficient funding is one of the biggest barriers students face. But just like the famous saying says, where there is a will, there is a way.

If you are not sure about how to get funding, you have come to the right place. This article explores the various options available to get the money you need in the USA.

Personal Funds

First, it might be a good idea to evaluate how much funding you or your family can provide for your education. A recent study by the Institute of International Education showed that nearly 65 percent of all international students in the USA had their education paid for by their family and relatives. It is the most popular source of financial support, with college and university funding coming in second.

Assessing your personal funds before you explore other sources of finance is vital. Apart from the tuition fees, you also have to think about the living costs involved. Consider how many years you are willing to spend studying and whether you can afford it. Applying to colleges or institutions that are in more rural areas of the country can help because the cost of living is lower. Studying at a community college is also cheaper than other educational institutes, so you might want to consider that.

Get Financial Aid from Colleges/Universities

If you want to study at a specific school, you can contact them and ask them what options they have for financial aid. Many HE institutions offer financial support through fellowships, graduate scholarships, grants, awards and bursaries and you can find more information about these on the school’s website or at the Institute of International Education and IEFA that allow you to explore your funding options for studying in the US.

These funding opportunities are ideal, because you don’t have to pay them back. While they might only cover a part of the student fees, they can be of a huge help. You can apply to as many schemes as you like, though you will need to make sure that you meet the criteria.

When applying for a scholarship, you need to show the school that you qualify for it. Just like you would do when looking for a job, it might be a good idea to focus on your strongest points and explain why you want to get into the particular field of study.

Apply for Funding From Charities

Many external funding bodies such as charities, trusts, learned societies and special interest groups can help. These organisations often offer financial support to a specific niche group, such as students coming from lower income backgrounds and people struggling financially who have achieved academic excellence.

Requirements often relate to the mission of the organisation and could include ethnicity, religious faith, gender, field of interest, talents etc. If you meet the criteria, you can get awards that cover tuition fees and secure funding from a number of organisations.

Work or Study Part-Time

Working and studying at the same time is difficult, but if that’s the only way to get money to fund your education, then you have to do it. While this can work, you need to think this through and be 100 per cent sure about it.

Another very good idea is to get a full-time job and study part-time. Many students do the opposite but often find themselves struggling with debt. Sure, it might take longer to finish your degree, but at least, you won’t be left with a mountain of debt.

If your studies relate to your job, you can also try to convince your boss to pay for your education. If you are good at what you do, your employer will have a hard time refusing you, because he/she wouldn’t want you to quit your job.

Consider Getting a Loan

If you are unemployed and didn’t manage to get a graduate scholarship, there is also the option of getting a loan. While it might be the least desirable option when it comes to funding your studies, it’s another great choice nevertheless. There are many types of student loans available, but the main ones in the US are:

  1. Stafford and Perkins loans: federal student loans given directly to students. These loans are given regardless of credit history and approval is automatic if the student meets program requirements.
  2. PLUS loans: federal student loans given to parents. These have higher limits than federal loans but payments start immediately.
  3. Private student loans: made to students or parents. These have higher limits and require no payments until after graduation, but have higher interests rates than federal loans.

If you find that you are struggling, you might want to consider title loans for the unemployed. If you have never heard of a title loan, it’s a  a secured loan where borrowers can use their vehicle title as collateral. A title loan, also known as pawn loan in some states, is a quick and convenient way people who own a car or motorcycle to get money. To get a title loan, you need to own a vehicle and have its lien-free title. There are also other requirements that you need to meet to get a title loan but these range depending on which state you live in. As such, you may need to do some research first.

If you are seriously considering of going to college, there are numerous funding opportunities available. So don’t lose your hopes just yet, and look at what you can get out of these options. If it’s your dream to get a degree, you shouldn’t allow the lack of financial support to get in your way. Instead come up with ways to work around the problem.

Are you thinking of going to college? Which funding options are you considering? Let us know in the comments section below…

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