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How to pay for college tuition

Updated on March 4, 2015
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Erin Shelby is passionate about living a lifestyle that aims for financial freedom. She writes about personal finance and other topics.


It’s no secret that the cost of college tuition is sky high and getting worse every year. For many students, college is simply out of reach. You’ve heard the same old advice for how to pay for college tuition this fall: apply for scholarships, get student loans, fill out the FAFSA, get a summer job and live at home with your parents. Even with all this, it still might not be enough for you. Have you figured out how to pay for books but not tuition? Here are three ways to pay for college that you may not have heard before.

Work for a Company That Offers Tuition Reimbursement

Tuition reimbursement is an amazing benefit that some larger companies offer. While you’ll pay for classes up-front, the company will refund the cost of those classes after you’ve completed them. The terms for tuition reimbursement vary based on the company you’re working for. In some cases, tuition reimbursement will only cover classes that are relevant to your job or a job that the company could someday offer you. In other cases, a company will pay for you to attend classes on any subject as long as you’re attending a credentialed university and you maintain a certain grade or higher. You can also expect to be required to work a minimum number of hours in order to qualify and there are typically restrictions on how long you must remain with the company after receiving a refund or you’ll be required to give the money back. Tuition reimbursement is a lifesaver for those who could not afford college otherwise. To find an employer that offers tuition reimbursement, search for job openings with large corporations and look at their benefits package before applying.

Take a Gap Year

The American way for starting college is to begin immediately after the senior year of high school. Not so for many European countries. Although British royals Prince Harry and Prince William weren’t worrying about how to pay for college, both took a gap year – a year off from school after high school – before starting college. The concept of a gap year can be helpful for American students for working and earning money for school. A side benefit of this is gaining time to discern a career direction and consider the value of a major.

Pursue a Trade or Apprenticeship

Unfortunately, many recent college graduates are finding that while they studied hard, earned good grades and participated in campus activities or internships, it wasn’t enough to land them an entry-level position. Many of those grads have moved back in with their parents and they’re considering themselves lucky to have any job, even if it doesn’t pay what they expected to earn after completing a degree. If college seems out of reach because of finances, look for jobs that will teach you a skill while you earn an hourly wage. Some examples of this might be cake decorating, construction, plumbing, clerical work or a job as a pharmacy technician. This will allow you to save money for future education while learning a skill in the meantime.

© 2013 erinshelby


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    • erinshelby profile image

      erinshelby 3 years ago from United States

      Thanks, Larry! I hope these tips help someone...

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Good advice.

      It is getting harder and harder to get our children through college using traditional means. It takes some creative thinking.

      Great read.