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How to Afford College

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Published on Sep 23, 2008

Watch more How to Get Scholarships & Financial Aid videos: http://www.howcast.com/videos/24383-H...

You can come up with college tuition -- even a six-figure one. It just takes a little digging.

Step 1: Start saving now
Begin saving for college as soon as possible. Assuming an 8% yearly return on your savings, socking away $100 a month for 18 years would leave you with $48,000 -- more than double what you put in!

Tip
Consult a financial planner—or even just a friend who’s recently paid for college—about ways to maximize your college savings fund.

Step 2: Get student aid
Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Download it at "www.fafsa.ed.gov":http://www.fafsa.ed.gov.

Step 3: Find plenty of scholarships
Apply for scholarships and grants. In addition to rewards for academic and athletic achievement, plus funds set up for minorities, there are all kinds of weird-but-true scholarships, like one for left-handed people and another awarded to the couple who creates the best prom outfit out of duct tape. Search online for "unusual scholarships."

Step 4: Apply for school-specific scholarships
Apply for scholarships and grants offered by the college you will be attending. For example, David Letterman established a telecommunications scholarship at his alma mater, Indiana's Ball State University. Contact your institution's financial aid office to find out what's available.

Tip
Apply early! You don't want to miss any entry deadlines if a project or essay is involved.

Step 5: Consider a loan
Consider taking out a loan. The federal government offers both subsidized and unsubsidized loans. The former are a better deal, but both are better than loans from private lenders.

Step 6: Look for work-study opportunities
Ask about work-study opportunities at your school. These are part-time campus jobs reserved for students.

Tip
You will likely pay less in taxes for a work-study position than you would for a normal job.

Step 7: Start with community college
If you can't afford a four-year school, consider attending a community college for two years and then transferring to the university of your choice.

Step 8: Get a job
Work full or part time while you attend school part time. It will take you longer to get your degree, but you will have less debt.

Tip
Some jobs will pay part of your tuition.

Step 9: Join the Army reserve
Consider joining the ROTC -- the Army's Reserve Officers' Training Corps. Army ROTC is the single largest source of scholarship money in the United States.

Did You Know?
Graduates of two-year colleges make an average of $400,000 more over their lifetime than those who graduate only from high school.

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