How to Pay for College: Student Loans, Scholarships, and More

While many people choose to attend college, there can be lots of confusion on how to pay for it. Tuition at most schools is made up of room and board, the cost of your courses, and so many extra fees they don’t tell you about up front. These charges can all add up to a rather long tuition bill. Think about the choices below to find different ways to help you pay for college and creative ways to save money.


A well-known option to pay for college is student loans found through FAFSA. When you fill out the FAFSA, you can get different offers for grants or loans, depending on your financial situation. If the FAFSA is the way you want to go, FAFSA’s website offers helpful hints on how to fill out the FAFSA to help get your application just right. After you fill out the FAFSA, you may see an offer for what is called a Stafford Loan

You may find yourself asking what a Stafford Loan is. A Stafford loan is aid given to students based on their financial needs. This type of loan could be a good option to look into if you are offered one of these loans. Something else that you may be offered through the FAFSA is a work-study option. Federal work-study is offered to students with financial needs, so if you fit the criteria, this could help you pay for college without having to repay anything. Beyond FAFSA, there are other options to get student loans to help you pay for college.

Student Loans

While FAFSA is a great option to get you started to pay for college, there are other types of loans to consider that could fit your needs. While Stafford loans come from the government, you can also get private loans directly from some schools or banks. If this sounds like a good option, check out these tips on how to get a student loan through these different options. 

In general, if you’re getting loans, it’s essential you understand how much interest you’re signing up for. A good mental exercise is to calculate what your payments would be after you graduate, and see what percentage those payments would be of your potential starting salary after graduation. If the amount feels feasible to pay back, loans are probably a great option.

One thing to note – if you’re getting federal loans, those can typically be deferred if you continue on after undergrad to get a graduate degree. Private loans don’t necessarily come with the same ability to defer payment after graduation, so plan accordingly.


There’s a scholarship for just about anything you can imagine. And the great part? You don’t have to pay them back! Scholarships can be need-based, but many are based on interests, background, academic focus, academic performance, and more. 

There’s no harm in applying to as many scholarships as you can. Some may require an essay or portfolio submission, but there are a number of others that don’t. If that sounds appealing, check out these no essay scholarships.  

While college applicants can be all ages, these scholarships for high school students are worth looking at if you’re going to college right after high school. 


While internships in general used to be unpaid, there are a growing number of paid internships. With an internship, it may be tempting to just stick to your area of study to do an internship, but there’s also value in branching out and trying something new. 

Internships also show future employers that you have drive and determination, plus the resolve to get things done creatively. They can help with future job applications while simultaneously bolstering your income in school and giving you invaluable life experience as well. And the best part? You don’t have to commit to one place more than a couple months on average. That means if you try it and it isn’t what you think it’d be, you’re not stuck.

Part-Time Work 

Part-time work is another great option to pay for college. Why? You’re earning the money now, and don’t have to pay it back like a loan. Plus you can pocket some of the difference for spending money.

To find part-time work, you can look in a variety of places. Many companies hire part time (check out the Careers section on their website). You can look on job boards, LinkedIn, and more. You can also ask friends or family if they have odd jobs you could do for them – even something like mowing the lawn twice a week, babysitting, house sitting, walking dogs, you name it. Part-time work doesn’t have to take much of your time and you can get paid well doing it. Also, don’t forget tutoring as an option since you’re already in school. Chances are there’s probably at least one subject you excel at that you could help others with.

Save Money Where it Counts to Pay for College

Lastly, to help pay for college, save money where it counts! You can cut down on college costs by renting textbooks, especially for books for non-major courses. You can also think about living off-campus with roommates to avoid expensive room and board fees. You could get a bike to use to commute to campus and save on gas money. You can also think about taking courses at a community college for your basics. Courses at a community college are likely more affordable than courses at a large university, and most will transfer in as equivalent credits on the way to a 4-year degree.

Either way, if college is a dream of yours, there are many options to consider to pay for it. Don’t forget to keep deadlines in mind, whether you’re applying to FAFSA, easy scholarships, or internships! Keep setting goals for yourself, and don’t limit your options to just one way to pay for college. 

Sandra Johnson

Sandra Johnson

Sandra Johnson was a few years out of school and took a job as a life insurance agent in California, selling coverage door-to-door for Prudential. The experience taught her about the technical components of insurance and its benefits for individuals and society, as well as the misunderstandings people often have about insurance. She has over ten years’ experience in the insurance industry, having worked as both a Broker and Underwriter, assisting clients across a broad range of industries. At Insurance Noon, Sarah diligently gathers all the required information and curates up pieces to provide meaningful insurance solutions. Her personal value proposition is to demonstrate a genuine interest in always adding value for clients.Her determined approach to guiding clients has turned her into a platinum adviser to multiple insurers.