The plain and simple fact is that you probably can't afford to pay for college on your own. The good news is that you don't have to.

Can I actually afford to pay for college?

By Marisa Sorenson

Short answer? Probably not.

There’s no denying it. Your college education comes with a hefty price tag, and there’s a good chance you don’t have that kind of change lying around. (If you do, we’re so happy for you.)

The plain and simple fact is that you probably can’t afford to pay for college on your own. The good news is that you don’t have to.

There are many options that will help you pay some of your college bill and leave you with a more manageable amount that you can pay off over time.

5 ways to pay for college

Federal grants

The FAFSA is a student’s best friend. Fill that out every year for the upcoming school year, and depending on your financial needs, you can qualify for aid that will cut your tuition by a significant amount. Federal grants are, in essence, free money. Accept all grants you receive. You won’t regret it.

Read more about what the FAFSA is and how it can help you. 


There are many, many higher education scholarships for students. Some scholarships will be provided by your school, often based on your academic record or excellence in sports. 

The plain and simple fact is that you probably can't afford to pay for college on your own. The good news is that you don't have to.

Other higher education scholarships can come through work—some companies will help you pay for school as long as you work at their places. Even more college scholarships can come from separate organizations or foundations that are focused on helping students pay for college.


Most schools have work-study options by which you can work at their offices or other on-campus places and get paid for it. Those work-study options often have flexible hours and are close to your dorm and classes. They also often understand that you are a student first and a worker second.


I know, I know, no one wants to leave college with a ton of debt. But using a few strategic student loans, especially the subsidized ones (the interest doesn’t start until six months after you graduate), can help you worry less about working all the time during college and help you focus on passing your classes. Passing your classes will help you leave school sooner, which means less student debt. Overall, it’s win-win situation.

Financial offices

If you’ve exhausted all the options above, go to the financial aid offices at your college or university. The financial aid officers there are trained to deal with paying for school. They are extremely knowledgeable and can possibly know about options that you don’t have access to or don’t know about.

Paying for an education can be scary. But you won’t have to foot the entire bill yourself. Paying for college is within your reach, you just have to take initiative and create a plan.

So even the short answer to your question might indicate that you can’t afford college on your own, there a lot of tools so that you can afford it with help!

Explore our college cost worksheet

See how costs of North Central University break down into affordable steps. Download our free College Cost Worksheet.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Subscribe and stay informed

Sign up to receive email notifications when we post the latest blog.