Scholars and Scholarships: 4 Pointers to Paying for Your Education

If you have been paying attention to news headlines in recent years, you may have noticed a shifting sentiment among Americans towards college education. Prior to the Great Recession, the vast majority of Americans believed that higher education was essential to socioeconomic success; however, a 2017 Pew Research Center survey revealed that 58 percent of conservatives do not think very positively about college.

Upon closer inspection of the survey, it becomes clear that the negative sentiment is related to tuition costs and the adequacy of education at a time when most industrial sectors are placing new demands on the workforce. In other words, Americans still consider higher education to be very important, but they are distressed about paying for college during times of economic difficulty. With the above in mind, here are four pointers you may wish to consider when thinking about paying for college:

Federal Funding

In 2017, this continues to be the most common method to pay for college tuition, and it has been improved considerably by various school loan and financing reforms passed during the Obama administration. The new rules are still being implemented; thus far, the situation is looking better for prospective students since the process of applying for Stafford and Perkins loans has been simplified.

You should take advantage of all possible federal options. Aside from the classic federal loans, you may be able to qualify for various grants. If you want to enjoy an easier financial situation upon graduation, you should investigate all grants, not just the Pell option; in many cases, you may qualify for a state-based grant that will require you to participate in community service projects.

Choose a Smaller College

This strategy is sadly overlooked by many prospective students. Even if you are tempted by invitation letters from major university, you should first investigate what smaller institutions have to offer, particularly if you are interested in earning a teaching certificate.

A great advantage of smaller colleges like College America and similar institutions is that they are often affiliated with the private sector for the purpose of providing specific career tracks with substantial tuition subsidies. Automakers, for example, are known to establish partnerships with small colleges to provide advanced and up-to-date education in certain car manufacturing technologies; you may be able enroll in these affordable programs for the purpose of working for the automaker upon graduation.

Work-Study Programs

Here's another reason why you should complete the FAFSA paperwork and explore all its offerings: work-study programs allow you to hold a job on campus for which you will be paid directly. The rate of pay is calculated on an hourly basis and cannot surpass the amount of federal aid you have already been awarded; most of the jobs relate to the administration of the school, and your work schedule will be arranged around your class schedule.

Even if you are not able to enroll in the work-study program of your college, you can always look for part-time jobs outside of campus.

Exchange Programs

Some study abroad programs are offered on a scholarship basis, and they only last a few semesters. Check with your school's affiliation with overseas universities to see if they offer an exchange option subsidized by both schools or by a non-profit association.

Inter-university exchanges are typically sponsored at the diplomatic level and tend to focus on foreign language learning. The government educational departments of each country agree to cover tuition costs; you would have to look for funding options for your travel and living expenses, which tend to be far less than tuition. In the end, you should not let the cost of college tuition get in the way of your future career. As you evaluate the options listed herein, you will likely get more ideas in this regard.

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