Are you looking to advance your career, but you’re not exactly excited about the prospect of getting your saddled in so much debt that you will be paying it off for the rest of your life? There is, unfortunately, no such thing as totally free education. But that doesn’t mean that it always has to be so expensive, either. Here, we’re going to look at some of the tips that can make your further education a little more affordable, at least.
Save up for it in advance
It won’t exactly reduce the costs of college, but by having a thorough college savings plan, you can at least make sure that you’re getting as much of the funding as you need together in advance. For example, you can look to see if any of the state or financial institutions around you provide the 529 Plan for long-term savings. The specifics of how these plans work and what they can be used on will vary depending on who provides it to you. In general, however, they act a tax-free savings account that can allow you to pay off a wide range of college or grade school expenses, including your tuition. In many cases, they will be the best savings plan a future college student can access.
Complete your FAFSA
Every year, billions of dollars are missed that could help you make further education more affordable. The Free Application For Federal Student Aid applies to a very wide range of people. As such, regardless of what your family’s finances or personal circumstances are, you should take a closer look to see if there are any grants or scholarships, whether it be on the state level or federal level, that could apply to you. There are some that might cover only a relatively small portion of your tuition costs, but there are also programs that can effectively give you a free ride. There’s nothing to lose by completing your FAFSA, so don’t neglect what is often your only chance to get a totally free education.
Go in state
If you want to attend college physically, spend time on campus, and get the whole college life, then one way to make sure you’re not adding unnecessary cost to the equation is to keep it in-state. It’s a lot easier to start your thrifty college life by looking for colleges that are closer to you. This may de due to regional tuition breaks, but you’re also cutting the costs of having to relocate, to make yourself at home in your new surroundings, and to commute back and forth for the summers or winters if you plan on visiting home regularly. If you’re living with your parents, then you may even able to commute to college from their home which, while it does have its drawbacks, is significantly less expensive.
Use the financial options available to students
College students get a pretty good deal on a lot of the financial necessities they will be using throughout their further education. For instance, if you have a checking account, then ask your bank if they provide a free checking account for students such as Radius Bank. Not only might these accounts come with a lack of fees that are surprisingly common in regular checking accounts, but they may even have rewards systems for students making use of them. Furthermore, as a college student, you may also be able to apply for a no-fee, low-interest credit card. Of course, regardless of how good a credit card you get, you need to use it responsibly.
Take an online course
Getting an online education is becoming increasingly common and losing a lot of the stigma that might have been attached to it in the past. You can get access to the quality of communication you would find on a physical campus, as many of the top online educators, like the University of Nevada Reno, also have physical courses and apply the same materials and professors to their online courses. The major difference is that, without having to accommodate you physically, they can reduce much of the costs of getting an education. Plus, taking an online course is perfect for those who want to get an education while still working in their career.
Get your employer to help with your tuition
This is a benefit that is not offered universally, or even by the majority of companies. However, if you’re currently employed, it may be worth asking if they have an employee reimbursement program that can cover some of the costs of your college tuition. If your employer doesn’t offer that particular perk, then you may instead want to consider looking at employees who do. The Balance Careers has a frequently updated list of companies that offer tuition reimbursement as a benefit. Most of these programs come with certain caveats. Some might require that you have worked there for a certain amount of time, or that you work a certain amount of hours while in college.
Consider the different loan repayment options
If you do have to take a student loan, then it’s important that you have a plan on how, precisely, you are going to pay it off. Thankfully, you don’t have to do it entirely alone. There are eight different federal student loan repayment options, each of which is best suited to students in different circumstances. Finding the plan that fits you best can mean that you have a much more manageable way to pay off your loans or, for those who can manage it, that you can pay off the loan more quickly and get out of debt, allowing you some financial freedom.
Make sure your costs don’t overrun
The tips above can help you find an education that’s more affordable. However, it’s important to ensure that your education also stays more affordable. As such, if you have to stay in school for an additional semester or even a whole extra year, your costs can start to increase exponentially. For that reason, make sure that you take on full class loads when you can, get to know your graduation requirements and do what you can to fulfill them. Of course, finding study groups and other ways to help improve your grades can make sure that you don’t fall off track, as well.
Avoid diving into your overdraft
As mentioned, when you become a college student, you tend to get access to some pretty good deals from banks and other financial service providers. These can include bank accounts that have interest overdrafts that go deeper than you might otherwise get. However, the temptation is often too strong to avoid using these overdrafts and a lot of students can end up graduating with a maxed out overdraft, only to find that the rules change after graduation, with interest, fees, and necessary payments being added on to overdrafts. If you have to use an overdraft, use it as responsibly as possible. In general, however, it can often be more trouble than its worth, so don’t use it if you don’t need it.
With the tips above, you should be able to find the most cost-effective ways to get the education you need and to manage the costs of not only what courses you take, but the little costs that can come along the way. Education is the most reliable way to get the skills and qualifications you need for a lot of jobs, and hopefully, these tips make that more manageable.