Want to know how to pay for Harvard? Or better yet, any other college for that matter? Well, I promise you that your chances of getting a full ride aren’t very realistic, seeing that less than 5% of students at any college get a full ride based on academic merit. BUT, I will give you 5 great ways to help put a dent in the college bill or maybe even get it for free with a little combined help.
Are you ready? Does this sound appealing? I’ll let you decide for yourself, but I don’t think that you will be disappointed. So here we go….
1. Start Early
Plain and simple, set yourself up for success by getting an early start. If that means starting the research process when you are a freshman in high school, go ahead and start then. However, this may be a bit early. Realistically, the beginning of your junior year is just about right.
So what do you do? First and foremost, set a game plan. List out what colleges that you may want to attend, and start to do your due diligence. See what they cost, how many people get scholarships, what your average debt would be to attend the college or university, what type of degrees they offer, how many get into post secondary education, etc, etc. I know this seems simple, but many times people start WAY too late, get rushed, and are cheated out of money they could have been awarded or negotiated, all because they procrastinated. Don’t be that person. Start the process early.
2. Actually Apply For Scholarships
This one seems so simple as well, but it does take effort. A lot of students think they walk on water, and that colleges are just waiting to give them money in the form of scholarships or grants. Sorry to burst your bubble, but this is just not true, even if you are a stellar performer. Colleges are businesses that want to make money just like any other major company, and trying to increase the bottom line is the reality. However, don’t let this discourage you.
There are many private institutions and people willing to give scholarships to hardworking individuals, but you do have to apply for them. And even if you apply, chances are that you won’t get a ton of money….which means that you need to apply for a bunch of them. Seriously, I know of a person that applied for 55 scholarships and got 20. She had to pay very little for her 4yr education.
3. Don’t Use Mom and Dad
This isn’t something that will help you address the issue of paying for college now, but it will help you later in life. I know that I was very fortunate to have my parents help me pay for some of my college expenses. For that, I am forever indebted to them. However, many times I wish that I hadn’t because they are now seriously hurting for their own retirement. The money that they could have put away for themselves, earning compound interest the entire time, is now gone. It makes me feel guilty, and I hate that. Plus, being able to take full responsibility for your own education will give you a sense of accomplishment like no other. This is a tough one, but try it out…you will be a better person for it in the end.
4. Get A Job
This suggestion makes many cringe. I mean shouldn’t college be about partying 4 nights a week and doing stupid things? Well, only if you are an irresponsible, spoiled little brat. Most of the rest of us have to take on loans of some sort to pay for college. I know that I did, but I also know for a fact that I could have reduced the amount drastically with a part time job. It would have forced me to not spend money on stupid things and learn responsibility at an even earlier age. Trust me, being able to spare yourself any debt later on in life, especially after graduating college and trying to find a job, will put a huge smile on your face.
5. Talk To The Right People
Yes, there are certain people within each university community that do hold the keys to the money pot. The real trick is trying to find those people. I’ll give you a hot tip….financial aid officers are NOT the right people with those keys. Try to keep away from those types, and take everything they say with a grain of salt. They are just trying to make things as attractive as possible to get you through the door. And they usually do so with loans that look like a good deal.
Remember how the point of this post is to help you pay for college with as little money out of your own pocket as possible? Taking on tons of loans is not the way. So just talk to the right people from the beginning. For instance, if you are a sports person, talk directly with the coach of the sport you are trying to play. If you are a math guy, talk to the head of the math department. I think you get the idea.
As I already alluded to, these are just a few of the many ways to cut down on the cost of college. There are tons of resources out there, such as www.StudentAid.org or Zac Bissonnette’s book about how to completely fund college. It is worth a read, and you can find out more about it by clicking here.
Alright my friends, until next time…..
P.S. If you have any other thoughts or comments about how to help pay for college, would love to hear about them in the comments section. Take care.