Our parents started drilling the message into us at a young age: College is the best path for long-term success. Thanks to the focus of the government, schools, and non-government organizations (NGO’s), a college education is more accessible than ever. While the path to a college degree can be challenging, there are a lot of resources at your disposal to get you from start-to-finish. Check out these six tips for accessing the education you need to be prepared for the job market.
1. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
Did you know that there’s literally free money sitting out there with your name on it? You can use this money to fund your college education, pay for books, student housing and more. Every school has a set amount they can award, so it is first come, first serve. For this reason, it’s critical that you file your FAFSA quickly; online filing periods are based on the year you will start your college courses.
2. Tuition is FREE at Many Schools Around The Country
Even with Federal student aid, it can be difficult to make ends meet while pursuing higher education. There are a number of schools that offer free, or steeply discounted tuition. Some are able to do this by raising money from donors. Others require students to work on-campus (generally around 15 hours per week) to cover part of their tuition expenses. A list of free colleges in the United States can be found here. These institutions range from Christian universities to military academies, and even a working ranch.
3. Private Companies Offer Scholarships
When companies are successful, they like to give back to the communities that helped them grow and prosper. One of the ways they do this is by creating scholarship programs. For example, Lister Frost offers students the opportunity to win $500 towards their educational expenses if they can create a compelling video aimed at raising awareness about the dangers of drunk driving.
Thousands of dollars are awarded every year to students attending college. In my experience, it’s best to go for the scholarships that haven’t been advertised heavily. The smaller the dollar amount, the more likely it is that you’ll get a real shot at winning.
4. Federally Subsidized Student Loans
If all else fails, there’s still the option of taking on student loan debt in order to fund your college experience. Please, I beg of you, carefully consider how much debt you want to take on in order to get your degree, just in 2015 total student loan accumulated up to $1.3 trillion dollars. I have a friend who went into more than $400,000 of student loan debt to fund his medical degree. He’s now a dentist, clearing close to six-figures, but he lives like a pauper because his student loan payments are the equivalent of a mortgage payment each month.
5. Employers are Motivated to Hire Part-time College Students
Once you get to college and start taking classes, it’s easy to burn through your savings. The partying, transportation costs and living expenses can crop up on you. I recommend creating a written budget in order to keep expenses in line. To increase your income, it’s easy to pick-up work around campus or even online if you have a certain skillset and are a productive person, you can do fairly well for yourself working remotely.
Businesses in college towns are looking for college students to work extra shifts while school is in session. Part-time, student labor is cheap and affordable; avoiding the need to fund benefits for full-time employees, and keep paying employees while the town is empty during summer break.
6. Virtually Anyone Can Get Into College
If your GPA is lower than a 2.0, you’ll find it difficult to get into many of the upper-tier universities and colleges across the country. Thankfully, virtually anyone with a high school degree can attend their local community college. These are schools designed to offer 2-year degrees that can transition to a four-year institution.
Students will also find vocational programs available for skilled trades (some of which can be much higher paying than traditional corporate careers). And, if you have trouble finding topics for all of the papers you need to write, you can always try these surefire strategies to help keep your grades up; ensuring you have the opportunity to transfer to a university.
In today’s job market, a college degree is a virtual necessity to getting ahead. Thankfully there are multiple programs available to help students get over the intellectual and financial hurdles of pursuing higher education. From private scholarships, to free universities, and even a lucrative part-time job market, college is accessible to anyone that’s will to show up, work hard, and remain focused.