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50 Ways to Pay for College and Graduate School

 

Did you know you don’t have to pay for college?

Sure, you have to pay for tuition, room, board, and books. But that money does not have to come out of your pocket.

If you take the time to plan for college, you can graduate debt free, or very nearly so.  To do this, you will need tenacity and foresight.  You will need to put in a lot of hours doing research.  You will need to work hard to ensure you have very little debt when you graduate.

Don’t tell me it’s impossible.  Don’t tell me I’m dreaming. 

I am the reality.  I went to college debt free. 

My friends joked that I was being paid to go to college.  It was true.  I always received a refund at the end of the semester.  My scholarships totaled more than my tuition.

What my friends didn’t joke about was the fact that I began researching scholarships in high school.  They didn’t joke about the fact that I worked all through college.  They didn’t joke about the fact that I knew my family couldn’t afford to pay for college.  They didn’t joke about the fact that I had to plan for college, because I knew I would have limited options if I failed to plan.

Disclaimer: I took out a loan one summer to study abroad.  I paid that loan back in full while I was in graduate school.  I also paid off my car.

No, I didn’t pay for graduate school either.  Yes, I worked all through graduate school.  Yes, I was debt free when I received my Ph.D.

How did I do it?  With hard work, planning, researching, and applying to every scholarship I was even halfway qualified for.  I also maintained good grades, and studied hard for standardized tests.  I set target scores for the PSAT, ACT, SAT, and GRE.  Then, I studied every day and did my best to achieve those targets.

There are scholarships, grants, and fellowships for every kind of student, for every individual from every walk of life.  There are funds for students who have jobs, good grades, high test scores, solid records of community service, a parent in the military, have been in foster care, or experienced other hardships in their lives.  There are scholarships for artists and musicians, poets and dancers, gamers and aspiring farmers.  There are even scholarships for people who can trace their ancestry to another country or an historical event.

You don’t have to pay for college or graduate school.  You can graduate debt free.  Let me show you how.

 

50+ Funding Opportunities

Here are more than 50 opportunities that will help you fund your education.  There are thousands more out there.  This is just a taste of the funds available to you.

 

Ancestry

American Indian Graduate Center

Amish Descendant Scholarship Fund

APIA Scholars

Cobell Scholarship

TheDream.US

The Gates Scholarship

Hispanic Scholarship Fund

The Jackie Robinson Foundation

Ron Brown Scholar Program

UNCF

 

Arts and Entertainment

Crossword Hobbyist

Doodle for Google

Floyd Mayweather Jr. Foundation

The Gallery Collection

Gamers Helping Gamers

Helen McCloy Scholarships

House of Blues Music Forward Foundation

Student Academy Awards

 

Easy and Odd

Debt.com

DoSomething.org

Foreclosure.com

Niche

Toyota TeenDrive365

Unigo

 

Graduate School 

Institute for Humane Studies

Jacob K. Javits Fellowships Program

Josephine de Karman Fellowship

NIH Fellowships

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

Spencer Foundation

 

Jobs and Employers

Most major employers offer scholarships and tuition assistance programs to their employees.  If you are currently working, find out how you can quality for your company’s program.  If you are not currently working, research employers in your area and find out what they have to offer.  Then get a job at one of these employers, and work towards qualifying for their scholarships.

Western Golf Association

 

Languages and Linguistics

BRIC Language Systems

Critical Language Scholarship Program

 

Life Events

American Cancer Society

Cancer for College

Foster Care to Success

Horatio Alger Association

Jack Kent Cooke Foundation

Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund

National Collegiate Cancer Foundation

National Foster Parent Association

 

Merit Scholarships

Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation

PSAT/NMSQT - National Merit Scholarship Program

 

Military and Armed Services 

American Legion Auxiliary

Children of Fallen Patriots

Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation

Purple Heart Foundation

 

Scholarship Directories

There are dozens of great scholarship directories. Most of these directories have been compiled over years, and they are excellent sources for little known scholarships and grants.

AAUW

American Association of Cosmetology Schools

Discover

Lead with Languages

Scholarship America

Scholarships.com

Society of Women Engineers

Trade School Future

UNCF

Unigo

 

Hidden Opportunities

Most colleges and universities have special scholarships and funds that are only available to their students.  The scholarships may be offered by major, financial need, GPA, or year in school.  As you research colleges, talk to people in the financial aid office, the department head for the major you’re interested in, current and former students, and current professors.  You’ll be surprised at the small grants, funding opportunities, and jobs available at your university.  To learn about them, all you have to do is ask.

States, counties, and towns also have scholarships they only offer to local residents.  Contact your city hall, chamber of commerce, local businesses, school counselor, and community service organizations to find out about local scholarships and grants.  Search online to learn about opportunities in your state.

 

Work for It

In addition to the opportunities above, search for part-time and on-campus jobs.  Jobs in libraries, computer labs, museums, and theaters allow you to earn extra money (and potentially complete your school work while on the job).  Jobs in cafeterias, restaurants, markets, and stores allow you to make money (and potentially get discounts on anything you buy).

While in college and graduate school, I worked a number of jobs during the school year and summer.  I consciously chose jobs and internships that offered perks or helped build my resume.  For example, I worked in the cafeteria (free meal plan plus a paycheck), the library (study time and access to free course materials), as a graduate assistant (good pay and a leadership role), and a research assistant (hard work and resume builder that likely helped me get into graduate school).

 

You Don’t Have to Pay for College

Although there are no free and easy roads to higher education, it is possible to minimize your debt.  If you don’t want to spend a fortune on college or graduate school, you have to work hard before you walk across the graduation stage.

I’ve shared more than 50 options to help you pay for your education.  You can do this.  There is money waiting for you. 

You don’t have to pay for college, unless you want to.

 

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2 comments

  • You’re welcome, Fab!

    Tywanquila
  • Thanks for sharing, as a life long learner that has paid for school, I am working on giving the students in my circle the tools to attend school without the burden of life long debt. Much Appreciated.

    Fab

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