How to Pay for School

School Financing Artwork

Education is hard enough without having to worry about how you are going to pay for it. The good news is there are plenty of resources to help pay for school whether you are planning on attending online or on a campus.

There are several ways to go about securing money needed for an education and most students opt for a combination of each; from federal and state grants to private loans at banking institutions that offer fantastic rates compared to traditional financing.

Choosing the right loans can be as important as choosing the right college. In addition to tuition, these loans can be used for just about any expenses including housing, books, computers and more.

Paying for School 101 

When pursing an advanced degree, one of the most important parts of your decision is how you’re going to afford your education. There are many different ways to pay for school including scholarships, financial aid, and grants. It’s essential to consider what works best for you, and how you can avoid going into debt to afford the education you deserve.

We put together a list of the best ways to pay for college. Take a look at them below, and learn how you can get the education you need without putting yourself into a difficult financial situation.

Merit Scholarships

Depending on your high school performance, you may qualify for a merit scholarship. The required GPA, ACT or SAT score, and extracurricular criteria differs from school to school, but every university outlines their expectations on the financing page of their website.

Many states also participate in merit programs. Generally, for every semester the student earns a 3.0 GPA or higher in high school, a significant amount of scholarship money is banked for college attendance. These funds are usually only available when attending an in-state college, though merit programs differ from state to state. You can access this information by visiting your state’s “.gov” website.

Financial Aid

Available to almost everyone who applies, financial aid is the most common way students pay for college. provides an application process once you’ve enrolled which breaks down expected expenses including tuition, books, and housing. Through the FAFSA website, students can apply for several different types of federal student loans.

Direct Subsidized Loans are eligible to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need to help cover the costs of higher education at a college or technical school. Direct Unsubsidized Loans are eligible to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, but in this case, the student does not have to demonstrate financial need to be eligible for the loan.

Direct PLUS Loans are available for graduate or professional students and parents of dependent undergraduate students to help pay for education expenses not covered by other financial aid.

Direct Consolidation Loans allow you to combine all of your eligible federal student loans into a single loan with a single loan servicer.

Because these loans are serviced through the government, they’re available with flexible repayment plans, including plans that accrue no interest until graduation. IBRs, or income-based repayment plans, tailor student loan repayment to the salary earned after graduation. If you’re not eligible for scholarships, government-issued financial aid is the best way to pay, as they have the lowest interest rates and most flexible repayment plans.

Local Scholarships

Don’t forget to search around your hometown for organizations or companies offering scholarships to local students. These are often awarded to students attending school in a specialized field, or for those participating in specific extracurricular activities or volunteer work. A list of scholarships may be found on your city or state’s “.gov” website, or even advertised in your local newspaper. Many high schools often have a directory of local scholarships, so be sure to ask your guidancecounselor about programs in your area.

National Grants

Grants and scholarships can come from the federal government, your state government, your college or career school, or a private nonprofit organization. To learn if you’re eligible for a federal grant, visit, where you’ll find descriptions of each grant as well as a list of those you’re eligible to apply for.

Federal grants are extremely competitive, and should not berelied uponsolely when figuring out how to pay for school. It’s important to first secure your primary financing, and apply to national grants as a second option, or in addition to your student loan. While some of these grants can pay for your entire education, the likelihood of one student securing enough financing to pay for their education is minimal.

 Employer Aid

If you’re applying to schools while employed full time, many companies will fund your pursuit of continued education. Check with your employer to learn more about their educational programs, and how earning your degree part time will enable you to get the promotion or salary increase you need.

When choosing which school to attend, be sure to apply to as many as possible – you’ll increase your chances of securing a scholarship or student loan. Remember that scholarships are competitive, so the more you apply for the more likely you are to receive one. Additionally, schools offer a wide range of funding, and by casting a wide net you’ll put yourself into the position to be selective and choose a school that offers you the most money.