March 24, 2022
Affordability: tips and strategies for paying for college
Paying for college can be intimidating and frequently confusing to understand. Fortunately, there are various programs and opportunities to help students afford to attend college.
The following is an overview of some of the most common ways students can pay for college.
St. Scholastica offers many scholarships for its first-year and transfer students. Additionally, scholarships can be awarded by outside groups such as foundations, civic organizations and other groups. Scholarship eligibility can be based on academic ability (often referred to as merit-based scholarships), financial situation (often referred to as need-based) or a combination of both.
Examples of available scholarships at The College of St. Scholastica include:
- Saints Match: A price match scholarship that makes attending The College of St. Scholastica comparable to the cost of attending the University of Minnesota system
- Benedictine Scholarship: a merit-based scholarship that provides levels of aid based on test scores or GPA for all first-year and transfer students at the Duluth Campus
2. General Financial Aid
The most common way students pay for school is using federal financial aid. Federal student aid is applied for through the website studentaid.gov. The application is always free and will require you to fill in your tax information from the previous year.
By completing the FAFSA, you will be eligible for grants, loans, or a combination of both. When accepting your financial aid, it is essential to understand that grants are money that does not need to be paid back and loans are money that will need to be paid back to the loan provider after you graduate.
When it comes to student loans, there are a few types you may qualify for. Unsubsidized loans will accrue interest the entire time you are enrolled in school, whereas subsidized loans will have the interest paid by the government as long as you are registered in school half-time.
There may be instances where the financial aid you are awarded does not meet your financial needs for an academic year. You and your family could consider a parent plus loan in these circumstances. This would be a loan that your parent applies for on the student aid website to help you pay for school.
3. Student Employment
Some students may qualify for student employment, aka work-study, based on their financial aid package. Federal Work-Study provides part-time jobs to college students with specific financial needs. This would allow students to work part-time on their college campus while enrolled in school. Generally, students with qualifying student employment jobs will work on campus and are paid hourly. These positions will earn at least the federal minimum wage.
A massive benefit to student employment is that the money earned in these positions is paid directly to you. Whereas other forms of financial aid are applied directly to your college bill first, work-study cash is given to you and the student gets to decide how to utilize the funds.
If you have questions about student employment at St. Scholastica, head over to the student employment page!
4. Employer Student Loan Repayment Program
Even after you graduate, you can still find helpful ways of paying for your college degree.
An employer student loan repayment program is a way for companies to help alleviate their employees’ student loan debt burden by offering them a match (up to $5,250 tax-free) on payments they make toward their student loans every year while employed. For as long as you, the employee, make regular student loan repayments while working, the employer will often make an additional contribution.
While not all companies are offering these repayment programs, they are becoming an increasingly popular benefit.
5. Loan Forgiveness, Cancellation and Discharge
In some cases, paying for college means paying forward with the types of services you provide after graduating. An example is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, which applies to direct loans for those who are employed full-time by a government or not-for-profit organization and have made consecutive qualifying repayments for 120-months.
Loan cancellation and discharge can occur in rare circumstances. You may be eligible for cancellation if the school you are attending is closed while you are enrolled, if you become totally and permanently disabled, or in rare cases, by declaring bankruptcy.
For more details, see the Federal Student Aid .gov page.
Value of a college degree
While the path to paying for a college degree isn’t always a direct one, it is hard to ignore the value that a college degree brings to an individual. Students who earn a college degree are likely to make $500,000 more over their lifetime than those who only hold a high school diploma. This gap widens even further for those who attain advanced degrees.
At The College of St. Scholastica, 93% of our graduates are either employed or pursuing an advanced degree within six months of graduation.
Not only is the academic knowledge gained through college incomparable to any other educational institution, but the experiences and lessons learned while attending college also are not something that can be replicated from anywhere else.
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