Do you feel overwhelmed by college costs? Time helps to put things in perspective. It provides a framework for making good financial decisions. Here’s how to pay for college: think carefully and strategically about your time.
7 ways strategic use of time will help you pay for college:
- Allow years to save: If you, your parents, or your grandparents have been saving for your education for a while, that’s good news. Saving over the years gives you a solid financial foundation to build on.
If you haven’t already been saving, though, it’s still important to get started. Set goals for how much you would like to save through summer employment and other income.
- Spend time on what saves time: Applying for scholarships and grants can shave thousands of dollars off your college costs. Researching to find the right ones and applying for them will require hours of your time, but they can save you years of loan repayments.
- A less expensive college = fewer years of debt: Don’t take cost differences among colleges lightly. A difference of $10,000 per year can save you several years of student loan repayment. Look for schools that offer a quality education at an affordable cost.
- Spend an evening with FAFSA: Many students receive some form of financial aid. Some universities even offer financial aid to 100% of their students. It only takes an evening to apply for it, but some students overlook this opportunity. According to Nerdwallet, 2.7 billion dollars of free federal money went unclaimed in 2016. “This money went unclaimed mainly because of incomplete or unsubmitted Free Application for Student Aid forms,” the site claims.
Make sure you carefully and thoroughly complete your FAFSA. This minimal investment of time can save you thousands of dollars.
Want to learn more about FAFSA? Check out this helpful article, What is the FAFSA anyway?
- Consider debt in monthly increments: When considering your loans, focus on your future monthly payments, rather than the total dollar amount of your debt. Most likely, college will make a big difference in your future earnings potential, and interest rates on federal student loan debt are low.
A college education is an investment in your future, both personally and financially. Student loans, when seen from the right perspective, can be digestible monthly costs you won’t regret.
- Remember that your time in college is limited and valuable: Working while you’re in college can help pay your bills and offers useful experience. Because student jobs usually aren’t high-paying and you’ll have limited hours for work, think of your student job as part of a larger strategy.
Work can also compete with other priorities, especially studying and sleep. If you’re making the investment of time and money to go to college, make sure you get everything you can out of it. Strategize carefully if you’re going to work during the school year.
- In the summer, time is money: If you’re serious about working to pay for college, summer is the time to do it. Everyone needs a bit of a break, but flopping on the beach from May to September means losing a prime opportunity to help pay for college.
Summer is a great time to work especially if you’re living at home. If you’re not paying rent, you can accumulate much more money to put toward your college costs. You can also work longer hours without worrying about how it will affect your studies.
Do your best to find high-paying work. For example, at some popular or upscale restaurants, you can earn a lot of money through tips. Don’t look for just any job. Find one that’s going to help you meet your financial goals.
You’ll need to weigh summer work against other valuable opportunities. Unpaid internships can give you experience and connections. Summer semesters abroad and service trips are also valuable. Before choosing what to do with your summer vacation, take time to analyze which option will be the most beneficial to your financial plan.
Let us help you strategize
You really can’t separate time and money. If you want to pay for college, be a careful strategist with your time. You’ll learn to be a good steward of your two most precious resources throughout your life.
We’d like to help to you strategize. North Central University offers a valuable, affordable private education in downtown Minneapolis. 100% of NCU students receive financial aid. They also get access to a dynamic downtown business culture with thousands of opportunities for internships and jobs.
NCU is within your reach. Contact us to see if it might be the right choice for you.
Want to see what it’s like to pay for college
Download this helpful cost worksheet to see the breakdown of how you can pay for college.