In the 2016-2017 academic year, students paid about $10,000 a year for public colleges and up to $34,000 if they went to a private institution. These numbers are keeping many young hopefuls out of college classrooms.
But you don’t have to bury your dreams of earning a college degree just because it’s gotten so expensive.
So, if you’re looking to finance your college education without scholarships, here are 13 ways to pay your way and keep debt to a minimum.
Take a Gap Year
During high school, you probably focused on your studies and social life. Even if you had a part-time job, you probably didn’t save much money. If that’s the case, consider taking a gap year before you start college. This is a time when you have little to no expenses, such as housing and car payments, utilities and health insurance.
So, if you work and save as much as possible, you can buffer some of your expenses.
Plus, you can use your gap year as a time to discern not only your degree program but so much more. It’s easy to lock yourself into a degree program, but try to look at the bigger picture. What does your dream career look like? What are your life goals?
If you can get clear on your intentions, you can eliminate the programs that won’t serve you best. Plus, you’ll waste less time switching majors or taking unnecessary classes once you start.
Do Work Study
Work study jobs are usually simple positions around campus, and the money goes straight to your tuition costs. What’s better, some of these jobs allow you to study on the clock.
So, you can kill two birds with one stone, and enrich your college experience by working right on campus.
Start an Etsy Shop
Do you make art, jewelry or crafts? Why not start an Etsy shop and run a small side business? It can help you in two important ways. First, your artistic outlet is a great way to destress after long hours of studying.
Second, you’ll be making money doing something you already love and know how to do.
Make Lifestyle Changes
It’s more convenient to eat premade meals or drive your own car. But keeping a car on the road, and eating boxed foods or ready-made meals can be expensive if it’s your daily routine.
Consider trading in your car for a bike and public transport, and learn to cook your own food. Sure, you might think you can’t because you don’t know how, but you’re already busy learning lots of new information in the classroom. Learning how to cook a yummy dish would probably be easy!
Sell Unwanted Stuff
You probably have lots of stuff lying around that you just don’t use anymore. But just because you’re not interested in it doesn’t mean someone else won’t be.
Sell items on Ebay, Craigslist, at garage sales, or on your social media accounts. It’s an easy way to make money with what you already have.
Live Off Campus
There’s no doubt that living in campus housing is the most convenient option for college students. But it can be quite costly, whether you stay for all or only some of your degree.
So, consider living off campus with other fellow students. You might have to use your new mode of transport, like a bus or bike, but you’ll save a lot in housing. Plus, it gives you a nice break from the college scene.
Start a Profitable eBay Shop
Do you like antique shops and thrift stores? You can turn that interest into a lucrative side gig. Here’s why. There are lots of people, just like you, looking for those rare pieces. You can find them, spruce them up, and sell them to fellow thrifters online.
I knew a young guy who paid his entire college tuition with his eBay shop!
Start with a Community College
Since more students are going to college, it’s important to have a competitive edge over fellow graduates by attending a prestigious school. It looks great on a resume and curriculum vitae.
However, it’s also a very expensive asset. But you can attend more affordable community colleges to start, and then transfer to a better school later on.
Work Work Work!
Optimize your summer and winter breaks by working whatever jobs you can find. Task Rabbit, Uber, babysitting, yard work, shoveling, paper routes, and other odd jobs on the side are great ways to make money without having a permanent job position.
This way, you won’t break the bank completing the basic prerequisites.
Buy Used Books
If you’re like most students, you can easily spend close to $500 per semester on course books. If you buy them new, that is. But you can spend a fraction of the cost if you buy older versions or different editions.
Half.com, eBay, Bookfinder and Alibris are good resources for students on a budget.
Find Employer Reimbursement Programs
Some jobs, like Starbucks, offer tuition reimbursement programs to employees (yes, even to part-time employees!). So, if you want to earn your degree without sacrificing job security or a steady income, these programs are a great way to grow academically and financially all at the same time.
Tutor and Teach
You don’t have to wait until you graduate to start cashing in on your skills and talents. You can tutor younger students, either through an accredited program or as a private instructor. This gives you lots of good experience and money, too.
Apply for Grants
If you weren’t awarded merit-based scholarships, you can still apply for grants. These are need-based financial rewards that you don’t have to pay back. They’re usually available from the state or federal government, private institutions, or through your own school.
If you and your family have low incomes, it may be easier to obtain a grant to cover tuition costs.
The high cost of college shouldn’t be the reason why you don’t earn your dream degree. With a savvy and smart approach, you can finance your college education without scholarships and without breaking the bank, too.