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Tuition Tactics: 5 Surprising Ways to Finance Your Education

Tuition Tactics: 5 Surprising Ways to Finance Your Education
Posted By: Anthony Christensen on April 16, 2019

It costs more to attend college in America than anywhere else on earth, according to a 2017 study from the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development. With an average cost of $8,200, it’s difficult to find ways to secure your future without taking out federal or private loans. However, there are unconventional means of financing your education that won’t break the bank. Here are four to look into.

Start a 529 plan

A 529 account is a college savings account typically opened for a young child to take advantage of accruing interest, but it’s still an option for students as late as high school. Not only does opening and maintaining a 529 account for a few years provide you with just a little extra funding, it also provides tax breaks and other advantages.

Look for local 529 options first, and find options with low maintenance fees (less than 1% is ideal) that won’t eat up your interest earnings. It also helps to create minimum $20-$50 investments from your paycheck to keep the account growing.

Negotiate for Financial Aid

Remember that the school you’ve applied to sees you as an investment just as much as you see it. Use the fact that they’ve admitted you to leverage potential financial aid perks. After a school accepts you, contact the school about need-based or merit-based financial incentives to solidify your decision to attend.

Need based aid could rely on financial situations such as single income or no income support while attending, while merit based aid could revolve around evidence of your commitment to your field of study.

Education Grants and Scholarships

Scholarships are excellent methods to find short term cash infusions into a college fund. They are either merit based — provided to exceptional students — or need based — provided to ease the financial burdens on low or middle income students. When applying for scholarships, students should build a portfolio when they’re still in highschool that they can regularly apply to as needed.

Consider recycling college application essays to streamline your scholarship applications.

Students can apply for scholarships while in college, but it’s best to get a list set up during high school. Scholarships vary wildly among types and categories. There are scholarships for the arts, scholarships for activism, scholarships for sciences. Sites like can provide complete scholarship information, and organizations like the **** or Rotary Club often provide scholarship details on their websites.

Work-Study Employment Plans

Some schools provide federal work-study opportunities that allow students to develop practical skills while getting tuition credits or discounts. Work can be for a number of different organizations, including on campus programs like facilities and office work or off campus assistance to non-profit organizations.

Work-study opportunities are typically assigned through need based federal funds, and can be found through school financial aid offices. Work-study, being a federal program, has a limit to the number of hours worked based on the amount of money awarded — if your grant is for $10,000 you can only work as much as $10,000 during the school year.

Internships and Apprenticeships

On-the-job training is a fantastic way to simultaneously build skills, make connections, and advance your education. Many companies offer internships and apprenticeships as a method of getting into an industry — white-collar work tends to be internship-based while blue-collar jobs are geared around apprenticeships. Truck driving companies, for instance, often provide truck driving classes for new hires.

Internships have a stigma of low skilled — sometimes free — labor for companies, but many businesses offer paid internships to attract better talent. Colleges typically have internship opportunities listed at career centers, but websites like Indeed and Glassdoor also provide internship listings.

Utilize each of these different funding strategies simultaneously to find ways that will build your skills and network and get you the education you need without running up sky-high student debt.

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