How to Pay for College Without Selling Your Plasma
College costs money. There’s no way to avoid that. The only thing that is truly free in today’s world are apps for your phone, and even those can get you with in-app purchases (Don’t ask me how much money I have spent on Poke’balls for Pokémon Go). Many students think that because they can’t afford a full college tuition that they cannot go to anything other than a community college.
STOP. RIGHT. THERE.
There’s a big myth going around that scholarship money is drying up and that if you can’t pay for college out of pocket you might as well give up trying. I’d like to take a few minutes to show you that College can be affordable for you- even a Christian college- and how starting NOW can help you afford college in the future.
Step #1 | Ask Uncle Sam.
The US Government actually has a lot of really great programs for helping your pay your college tuition. Did you know that there is a grant out there awarded to thousands of students each year called a Pell Grant, and that it is worth up to $6,000? On top of that, there are Work Study programs funded by the government where you can work for your college in exchange for real money towards your college tuition?! Check out this short video put out by the Federal Student Aid team and see what they can do for you!
As you can see, there are lots of options for you when it comes to federal aid – it pays to have parents that pay taxes! Make sure you apply early by heading over to fafsa.ed.gov and creating an account. Pro Tip: Bring Mom or Dad with you, because this application is heavily based on their tax information, there’s no way to finish & submit the application without them. (Maybe bribe them with a fiber one bar or a coupon for buy one get one laundry detergent… that’s how I get stuff from my parents)
There are a million different opinions about Student Loans – whether you are pro, con, or undecided – they are available to you, and can be the last little push you need to be able to cover your school bill! The great news is with loans through the Federal Student Aid program, you don’t have to start paying back the loan until 6 months after you stop taking classes! This gives you plenty of time to come up with a smart repayment plan.
Here’s the quick math – if you qualify, Uncle Sam can get you a $6,000 student loan, plus there’s a chance you could earn up to $6,000 in Pell Grant money, which means that’s a possible $12,000 in aid each year right there! It is worth the time to fill out the FAFSA, and the earlier you complete the FAFSA, the sooner you will know your financial options, the sooner you can find the school that is the right fit for you!
Step #2 | Apply Early & Be Aggressive
You know that old phrase, “The early bird gets the worm”? It may be the most overused saying in history, but its message is so true – especially when it comes to financial aid. Many schools have private scholarships they can offer you – but these are often on a first come, first serve basis. For example, a school might have $20,000 in a fund for a specific scholarship, and they decide that they will give it to the first 20 best-qualified applicants. It doesn’t matter if you are more qualified or if you write a better essay, if 20 people get the scholarship before you, that money is gone and you have missed out.
DON’T BE THAT PERSON!
[x_blockquote type=”left”] Many schools have private scholarships they can offer you – but these are often on a first come, first serve basis. [/x_blockquote]
Here are some things to keep your eyes on:
- Early Admissions/Enrollment/Confirmation Scholarships are really popular. For example, when you apply for Word of Life Bible Institute, if you complete your application and pay a confirmation deposit before a certain date, you get scholarship amounts. See an example of that here.
- Follow your college on social media! You will be surprised how many schools will do flash giveaways, or announce new scholarship opportunities on Instagram. While you’re at it – give us a follow @wordoflifeedu 😉
- Be Proactive– The financial aid staff at any college is not going to hold your hand and walk you step by step through the process of applying for aid. This is college – the training wheels are off and the responsibility lies with you to go and get it! Read the mail that colleges send to you thoroughly, make sure you read ALL the requirements. Many schools will not let you know if you are missing something, so make sure you are constantly checking your web portals for more information and that you are turning everything in.
- Communicate – not sure about something? Don’t wait for the school to call you – Call them! Calling in and asking questions is your key to making sure you are getting all of the aid possible. The early bird principle applies here as well – don’t wait until summertime to finish up your paperwork, call and ask what you can do NOW. Remember, America is full of procrastinators, so waiting until last minute to do all of these things guarantees you long wait times and leaving lots of voicemails. Get things done now so you can sit back and relax this summer while everyone else sweats it out.
Step #3 | Pray, Pray, Pray
I worked as an Admissions Counselor for three years, and during that time I saw many students have the Lord miraculously provide for their school bill. Remember that where the Lord guides, He also provides. The decision you make about where you attend school in the fall should be determined by the impact it will have on your relationship with the Lord, not the impact it will have on your wallet. Every school has a cost; it’s the value of the education you receive that is important. What higher value can you find than spending one year doing nothing but studying God’s Word, growing in your relationship with the Lord, and being the hands and feet of Jesus by serving in ministry alongside your classmates?
A student I once worked with was broke when she applied to come to our school. She had gone to a very expensive private college for a year, and it had really tied up most of her available funds for college. She came to me one day and said that she knew that she needed to come to WOLBI – that the Lord had made it clear that it was time for her to spend a year focusing on her relationship with Him. So, she applied, got accepted, and began applying for financial aid. Let me tell you – the Lord PROVIDED for that girl, and continues to today! She came to not just our first year program, but our second year program as well. She got scholarships, but was also blessed by the generosity of God’s people around her. Someone even anonymously paid for her school books. I tell you that to say this – we serve a BIG God who can do exceedingly above anything we could ask or think of (Ephesians 2:20). If you are seeking Him (praying, spending time in the Word, actively communicating with Him), He WILL direct you to His BEST plan for you next fall. Finances are a real thing we have to consider, but they are no match for a God who lights the way to each step we need to take. Trust Him, friends. It is SO worth it.
[x_blockquote type=”left”]Finances are a real thing we have to consider, but they are no match for a God who lights the way to each step we need to take.[/x_blockquote]
I hope that this post helped guide you through the steps of financial aid, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that I would love to connect you with one of our Admissions staff so that they can share with you just how valuable studying God’s Word truly is, and pray with you about where the Lord might be leading you this fall. Why don’t you give us a call? 1-800-331-9673.