College education is expensive. Everyone talks about the burden of debt that it brings along with it, often wondering if the cost is worth it. However, a college education can be truly invaluable on so many levels. Moreover, there are many different ways to hack the system. You can even get paid to go to college.
It’s Worth It to Try to Get Paid to Go To College
It’s relatively easy for many young people to get student loans. In fact, older people returning to college also often have easy access to large loans for higher education. Despite the availability of loans, it’s worth it to take the extra time to try to get paid to go to college. After all, college costs tens of thousands of dollars. Why would you burden yourself with that amount of debt when you could potentially get paid to go to college instead?
Fill Out Your FAFSA
The first step planning out the financial side of your college education is filling out your FAFSA. Through this application, you provide the federal government with information about your financial status. They reply with information about the loans, work-study opportunities, and grants that are available to you based on financial need. Look first at the grants and work-study opportunities. Loans should be your final resort.
Apply for Grants and Scholarships
FAFSA tells you about the need-based federal aid that you’re qualified to receive. Therefore, it’s the first step if you want to get paid to go to college. The grants are “free money” that you can use to pay for college. Work-study allows you to earn money on campus to pay for college. In both cases, you reduce your college expenses by earning money.
However, these are only a handful of the grants and scholarships available to you. Take the time to seek out and apply for as many grants and scholarships as possible. In addition to need-based financial assistance, you can apply for grants and scholarships based on varying criteria including grades, family status, gender and other demographic factors, age, area of study, sports and community involvements, and essay-based applications. The more grants and scholarships that you apply for, the more money you might be able to make to go to college.
In addition to grants and scholarships, ask your college about tuition waivers. In many cases, colleges actually reduce or waive tuition fees. Each school is different but some of the qualifications for tuition waiver include financial need, cultural diversity needs of the school, status as a foster child or adopted child, disability, nontraditional student status (such as over age 60) and more.
Get Paid to Go To School Through Work or Military Service
You don’t have to go to college right out of high school. In fact, waiting until later can often open up opportunities to get paid to go to college.
Military Members Get Paid to Go to School
One of the most common routes historically has been to sign up for military service. The GI Bill helps pay military members to go to college. There are also other military tuition benefits, including some for family members.
Members of any branch of the military can get paid to go to school. However, each branch has its own rules and regulations around the terms of service. For example, according to Military.com, most branches offer assistance to both active duty and reserves members; however, the Marines only offer help to active duty members.
In addition to the GI bill and other military tuition assistance, military members as well as their family members have access to a variety of different grants and scholarships particular to their unique circumstances.
Corporate Jobs Pay You to Go to School
But the military isn’t the only career path that will send you to school. Sometimes you can get a corporate job that pays for you to go to college. For example, you might start out as an admin at a large company. After a certain period of employment, they pay you to get a degree in an area study that corresponds to the company’s job opportunities. Typically, you commit to a certain amount of work with them. Then you get paid to go to college to qualify to do that work.
There are some companies that will pay tuition for nearly all employees up to a certain amount per year. For example, according to eStudentLoan by Unigo, UPS employees are eligible to receive over $5000 per year in tuition reimbursement starting on their first day as a part-time or full-time employee. They list three dozen companies that offer corporate tuition assistance including Wells Fargo, Starbucks, Home Depot, Verizon, McDonalds, Chipotle, CVS, and JetBlue. If you’re looking to start a job now that will allow you to get paid to go to college, then check out this list.
Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
If you do end up taking out student loans, then consider studying in a field that offers student loan forgiveness. Teachers qualify for student loan forgiveness. You might also consider social work or another opportunity to qualify for public service loan forgiveness. In either case, you do have to pay your tuition up front using loan money. Then you have to make your student loan payments (with varied options depending on your salary.)
However, over time, if you provide enough service in one of the qualifying post-graduation job positions, then some or all of your student loans will be forgiven without penalty. This provides a long-term way to get paid to go to college if you don’t qualify for up-front payment opportunities.
In addition to federal student loan forgiveness programs, you can find funding to forgive loans from other career-specific organizations. For example, The Balance recommends checking out Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program and National Institute of Mental Health Loan Repayment Program if you work in either of those fields after graduation.
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