Hello folks! Today I am bringing you a guest post from Pyper who blogs over at Weird Scholarships.
Pyper is the founder of the scholarship website: WeirdScholarships.net. After experiencing student loans for the first time in college, she decided to find a better way to pay for her education. That way turned out to be scholarships which helped her pay for the remainder of college. This led to her interest in student loan debt and its number one solution: scholarships!
Pyper has some great resources for all students. I hope you check out her site and give it a follow. So without further ado, let’s hear from Pyper!
Student Loan Alternatives for Students in 2016-2017
Paying for college is a burden on all students, and it can often be a significant source of stress. As you approach your college days, it is time to start thinking about how you plan to pay for it and how you want to handle any debt that may come about.
Student loans are available to students, but you may want to avoid them for a couple of reasons. For instance, student loans require you to pay back all of the money that you borrowed PLUS interest on that money. This means that your student loan bill can be as much as double the original amount you borrowed. You may want to figure out an alternative to student loans, or else you may end up making a big mistake!
If you are trying to seek out student loan alternatives, we will list several of them below and you should give them some consideration as they can help you stay out of debt or minimize it as much as possible.
Free Community College Classes
If you are able to take free community college classes, take advantage of it. Tuition at other colleges can exceed most people’s wildest dreams. Often times, colleges will offer free classes to students where you do not have to pay to take them. You can find these classes on campus and online.
If you are still in high school, now is the time to think about college and what classes you need to take. Most high school students can participate in dual enrollment, which allows you to attend college for free and earn credits while you are in school. This is a great way to give yourself a head start and limit the amount of money you have to pay for your education. If you are interested in dual enrollment, you should speak with your guidance counselor.
Scholarships are considered to be free money for school, so you do not have to pay back any money received. There are thousands of scholarships available to students and you are not limited to how many you can receive or how much money you can gain from them. Therefore, if you win 10 scholarships for $5,000 each, you have a total of $50,000 to be applied to your school-related expenses.
Scholarships can be found online or your financial aid counselor can provide you with some leads as well. When you do apply for a scholarship, make sure to spend time on your application and try to stand out from the crowd. Another good idea is to apply for niche specific (ex. This Gates Millennium Scholarship helps minorities such as African Americans and Hispanics) or lesser known scholarships as there is less competition.
Federal grants are considered to be gift money, which does not have to be paid back. Federal grants are available to students who are financially in need of them. The most well-known federal grant is the Federal Pell Grant.
The amount of money that you receive will depend on your specific financial need, but the maximum limit for the Federal Pell Grant is $5,815 for the 2016-2017 school year.
Federal Work Study
The federal work-study program, often abbreviated FWS, provides both undergraduate and graduate students with part-time job options to help them pay for college. This program is in place to help encourage students to participate in community service work within the field of study the student is earning a degree in.
Jobs are available on a first come-first serve basis based on how much funding the school has available. Jobs are available mainly on campus, but you may find some jobs available off campus as well. One of the benefits of this program is that your college is required to work around your class schedule, so you do not have to worry about possibly losing your job due to having to attend class.
The amount of money you receive will be at least the current federal minimum wage in your state. In addition, the amount you receive will depend on your financial need and the level of funding that your school has available, so it is important to apply early and submit your FAFSA on time.
The money you earn can be used to pay for your tuition, books, or education-related expenses. You can also choose to have the money deposited into your bank account and use it to pay for your living costs while you are in school.
Stipend Money from Volunteer Programs
Lastly, you may be able to find a volunteer program in your area that will provide you with an education stipend if you volunteer a certain number of hours per month to their program. A good example of this is the AmeriCorps program, which provides education stipends to those who participate in the program.
If you are looking for student loan alternatives, the above ideas can help you pay for college without having to borrow any money. You should exhaust all of these options before you apply for a student loan and if you do need to take out a loan, only borrow the amount you truly need.