The average published yearly tuition for a private 4-year college is about $31,000 and, for a public university, it is about $23,000 for out-of-state students. For many people, paying this much for college simply isn’t possible – the cost of tuition in many cases is more than the average person makes in a year. For this reason, more and more students are turning to community colleges because they are generally more affordable than traditional 4-year colleges and universities.
Even if community college is cheaper than traditional 4-year schools, tuition is still a major expense. Many students take out loans to finance their education but they are still left with the cost of books, supplies, and fees. If you are struggling to pay your community college expenses, you will be glad to know that there are some options out there that don’t involve taking out more loans.
This video shows you how to graduate from college without student loans
Money-Saving Tips Before Enrollment
To ensure that you save as much as possible on community college tuition, there are a few things you can do while you are still in high school. For one thing, you should take full advantage of any opportunities you have during high school to earn college credits – this may include taking Advanced Placement classes so you can skip low-level college courses. You should also keep an eye out for scholarship opportunities. Many charitable organizations offer scholarships that can help you save money for college even if you don’t qualify for need-based aid. Talk to your school counselor to see if there are any local scholarship opportunities you might qualify for.
In addition to looking for scholarships and earning college credits as early as possible, you should also start saving money for school as soon as possible. If you work during the summer, put aside some of your earnings in a 529 college savings plan. When you graduate from high school, don’t blow all of your graduation gift money on summer fun – put some of it aside to pay for college expenses. When you are ready to start community college, don’t forget to take advantage of student discounts. Having a student ID can save you money on everything from movie tickets to school supplies and computer software.
In this video, a student explains how she paid for her college education.
Creative Tips to Pay for Tuition
Once you enroll in community college the bills will start to pile up quickly. Stay on top of them by implementing some of the following creative options:
- Consider joining the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, or the ROTC. These programs frequently offer tuition benefits in exchange for a service commitment. In most cases, you will be able to postpone the fulfillment of your service commitment until after you graduate.
- Move back home. Every young adult craves independence but at some point, you need to think about whether living on your own (and paying all of the associated costs) is worth it. If you can stomach living at home for an extra year or two, you may be able to save a lot of money that you can put toward your college tuition.
- Consider freelancing. If you have a talent for writing or web design (or any other skill that can be done remotely), you may be able to earn some extra money online through various freelancing websites. You can also try advertising your services on free websites like Craigslist.
- Set up an account on Sponsor My Degree or Edulender. These websites allow you to create a profile where your friends and family (even strangers!) can donate money to put toward your education expenses. These donations can be made in lieu of graduation presents, birthday, or holiday gifts if you tell everyone what you are doing.
- Consider private loans over bank funding. If you don’t qualify for scholarships or federal loans, you may think that your only option is to get a loan from your bank. Banks will charge you high-interest rates, however, and they may not be very flexible when it comes to the terms for repaying your loan. There are many websites that offer private loans from people who want to help students by offering low-rate loans – these are called P2P sites.
- Sell blood and plasma. You may not make a lot of money at one time, but if you give blood or plasma as often as it is allowed (usually once a week) you can save up some money to put toward tuition expenses. For healthy women with clean medical histories, you can earn as much as $8,000 as an egg donor.
- Take advantage of research studies. If you live near a large hospital or university, there will probably be plenty of opportunities for you to take part in research studies and clinical trials. Some studies pay more than others, but it is not uncommon to earn $200 to $500 for your participation.
- Become a caddy on the weekends. If you live near a private country club you can earn good money on the weekends by being a caddy. Caddies make decent money in addition to tips – you will also get plenty of exercise while you work.
- Take advantage of on-campus job opportunities. There are plenty of ways to make a few extra bucks here and there on your community college campus. You can work as a model for art classes, you might get paid to play in the college pep band, you could even get a part-time gig doing custodial work.
- Sell things in an online store. If you have a talent for arts and crafts, cooking, sewing, or virtually anything else you can probably find a platform to sell your goods online. Etsy is a marketplace for handcrafted goods and you can sell just about anything on eBay.
- Join a co-op program. Cooperative education programs (co-ops) allow students to work full-time while they are still enrolled in college. Students can earn a good hourly wage while also earning work experience, all while attending school.
- Sell your old textbooks. Textbooks are one of the biggest educational expenses. Depending on which classes you take, you may be able to sell your used textbooks for cash after you complete the course. Some textbook companies release new versions each year, so this might not work for all of your books.
- Take notes for other students. Some people are simply better at taking notes and gleaning important information from lectures – there are also plenty of people who are simply too lazy to take notes for themselves. You can take advantage of this opportunity by selling your notes to other students in the class.
This video explains how to use FAFSA to apply for financial aid.
Tuition expenses continue to rise each and every year, forcing students to find ever more creative ways to raise money. If you are struggling to pay your community college tuition, consider some of the tips above to earn a little cash on the side while you attend school.
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