How to Earn Money for Your Hard-Earned College Degree

How to Earn Money for Your Hard-Earned College Degree

How to Earn Money for Your Hard-Earned College Degree

There are no two ways about it: college costs a lot of money. Even if you choose to begin with community college and get your AA, there are fees associated with registration, books, and other miscellaneous expenses. Whether you choose to go in-state and save money or go all out with a private school, the price tag is often more than people expect.

The good news, though, is that there are plenty of grant programs out there that can help you acquire the money for college without you having to pay for everything out of pocket. In 2021, the national student loan debt had soared to over $1.5 trillion; the average college graduate left school with not only a degree but over $30,000 in loans [1]. Student debt can be crippling: many careers don’t pay what they should right off the bat, interest rates often mean that minimum payments do nothing to reduce the principal balances, and even declaring bankruptcy won’t erase loans for school.

So, what’s an aspiring academic to do? Apply for grants before you even set foot on a university campus. There are so many types of grants available, whether it’s for financial need, economic status, educational goals, or falling into a niche category. Grants are among the most coveted types of aid because they never have to be paid back! (Certain federal grants might have to be paid back if your status changes or you withdrew from a program before completion [2].)

There’s one thing that has to be completed to receive any type of aid, though, so let’s make sure you know about that, too.

Filling Out the FAFSA

First and foremost, anyone who is applying for financial aid of any sort for college must fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or a FAFSA [2]. This is an online form that details all your information, including your family’s economic status, how much they can be expected to contribute toward your education, etc.

Filling out the FAFSA allows each school at which you apply to offer you a financial aid package, including scholarships, loans, grants, and work-study opportunities. It also makes non-school-related scholarships and grants available to you.

You need to fill out the FAFSA every year with updated financial information. Now, it’s even easier with the MyStudentAid app, available for both Apple and Google platforms.

Federally Funded Grants

The federal government provides four main grants to students in the US [3]. These are Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity (FSEOG) Grants, Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants, and Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants. The last three are quite specific, but the one that almost everyone qualifies for is the Pell Grant.

The Pell Grant is one of the most common grants used by college students. It gives students up to $6,345 a year (this number can change annually, so double-check the exact amount before allocating for it in your budget).

The amount of money your grant totals depends on:

  • How much money your family can be expected to provide
  • How much tuition costs for your program
  • If you are attending part- or full-time
  • How long you plan to attend school

If you will be an undergraduate student and don’t already have a degree, you will qualify for a Pell Grant. This money can be sent to your school, to you directly (so you can pay for books or rent off campus, for example), or a combination. Fill out your FAFSA and you’ll get an offer!

School-Specific Grants

Some schools give grants specifically to students attending their programs who fall into particular categories. For example, people attending Western Governors University who dealt with extreme financial struggles in 2021 that would have otherwise made it so that they could no longer attend school can qualify for a grant of up to $4,000 to continue their education.

This multi-installment grant is dependent on many factors, including:

  • Academic performance
  • Financial need
  • Ability to study online at WGU

College-based grants are often awarded on merit or need, but they can also be given out based on academic or athletic performance, extra-curricular achievement, or particular qualities that a student has. Every university has financial counselors who can help guide you toward applying for that school’s particular grants.

Grants for Academic Achievement

There are many grants available for students who have already shown academic prowess and potential. Beginning in 2006, the Academic Competitiveness Grant and the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) Grant both became available. These grants are connected, with Academic Competitiveness awarded to first- and second-year students and the SMART grant reserved for third- and fourth-year attendees.

To be eligible for these awards, one must also be eligible for the Pell Grant and hold at least a 3.0 GPA. They are mostly awarded to students majoring in:

  • Crucial foreign languages
  • Engineering
  • Global Economy
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Technology

The total amount received must not go above total tuition costs, when combined with the Pell Grant. Typically, first-year students receive $750; second-year students receive $1,300. Awards can be less, though, if a student’s financial status or tuition needs warrant it.

Private Grants

Private grants might take the most work to find and apply for, but they are the most abundant. If you can think of a place, a qualification, or a reason for need, then there’s probably a grant for that. This is because a grant can be offered by any private organization that is not affiliated with a school or university. They are often offered by churches, labor unions, employers, non-profits, community organizations, or wealthy benefactors [3].

The requirements for each grant differ; they are usually contingent upon values or qualities that the gifting program holds in high esteem. For example, the Kiwanis Club might offer a grant to a student who has performed many hours of community service. Churches or ethnic community centers often offer grants to people who are members of their religion or who claim that particular ethnicity. Some companies offer grants to students pursuing a career path that would put them in that field, and individuals might offer grants to those whose journeys mirror their own. Whatever it may be, you simply need to search them out (as always, the Internet is a wealth of information) and apply for those you qualify for.

Wrapping It Up

There are numerous types of grants available for college students nowadays. You don’t have to pay for college all out of your own pocket! Start early, plan ahead, and get your ducks in a row. Before you know it, you’ll be walking across that stage earning your degree… and hopefully, you won’t have loans to carry with you!



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