Many students looking to finance their studies turn to the Federal Application for Student Aid (more commonly known as FAFSA). While the federal government doles out billions of dollars each year in federal grants, loans, and work-study funds to more than 13 million students, what happens if you’re one of the students who doesn’t qualify? What if FAFSA’s allotted funds dry up by the time you apply? What if a federal loan just isn’t enough to fund the education of your dreams?
Don’t panic. You’re not out of luck and you’re certainly not out of alternatives. Here’s how you can finance college when FAFSA doesn’t come through.
Check Out Private Student Loans
Image via Flickr by Got Credit
If federal loans aren’t available to you, it may be time to compare private student loan offerings. Though private loans generally come with higher interest rates than federal loans, they’re widely available and aren’t dependent upon you or your family’s income. You can quickly and efficiently get the money you need to attend the college that you desire, which makes them perfect for students who know what they want, such as entrepreneurs going back to school to hone a particular skill or broaden their horizons.
Seek Out Scholarships
Of course, there’s no point in passing up free money. There are tons of scholarships out there. Some are pretty small and might just cover the cost of a few textbooks. Others are huge, potentially giving you a full ride to an Ivy League school. Most are somewhere in between. All of them, however, take at least a bit of effort. Check for both private and public scholarships. You’ll probably be surprised at how many you potentially qualify for. Not to mention that many students simply don’t bother to apply for scholarships, which means that many scholarships aren’t all that competitive.
Plead Your Case
It’s not common knowledge, but you can actually haggle over the cost of your college education. This isn’t a sure-fire method, but if you’ve got a persuasive streak, legitimately need help, and you’re otherwise a great fit for the school, you might be able to sway the admission board by writing a formal appeal letter. If you’re successful, you could very well talk the price tag down on your college education.
You should also consider meeting with an advisor in the financial aid department. They may be able to cut you some slack if you’ve got extenuating circumstances, like family illness, job difficulties, or anything else that’s making money tight.
Get a Job
While soaring college costs mean that getting a job isn’t going to pay for everything, earning money in conjunction with loans, scholarships, and discounts can close that final gap between affording college and not. You should keep your eyes peeled for campus job opportunities. Not only will they give you some income, but they’ll more often work around your class schedule and are conveniently located right where you study.
Even if FAFSA drops the ball and doesn’t help you out, there’s no reason to give up on your college aspirations. There are plenty of ways to afford your education and even more reasons why you should pursue your degree.