You got into your dream school, now how do you pay for it? There are a number of ways you can secure funds to help cover the cost of your tuition and fees. First things first, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. This will help determine if you qualify for grants, work study, student loans and more. Read on for five ways to pay for college:


If you qualify for a grant (based on your FAFSA) take advantage of it. Unlike a loan, you don’t need to pay back grant money. Grants can be awarded by the college, and on a federal or state level.


Start applying for scholarships early. There are thousands of private scholarships available from companies, communities and non-profits. Speak with a guidance counselor to help you begin your search. Just like grants, scholarship money does not need to be paid back.

Work-study jobs

Through your FAFSA, you may qualify for a work-study job. The federal work-study program funds part-time jobs for students in need. You’ll need to apply for a job on your college campus if you qualify. And if you don’t qualify for work-study, it’s still worth looking into a part-time job while you’re in school.

Employer tuition assistance

Speaking of those part-time jobs, some companies offer tuition assistance to help employees pay for their education. Talk to your HR representative or manager and see if there is a program you can participate in.

Student loans

If you don’t qualify for any grants, loans, or a work-study program, you can consider taking out a student loan to pay for your college expenses. Any money borrowed will have to be paid back after you graduate and all loans except federal subsidized loans will accrue interest while you are in school, so you’ll pay back what you borrowed plus interest. Loans fall into two categories: federal and private.

Federal: Federal student loans offer better interest rates and more protections. How much you are eligible to borrow will be determined by your FAFSA. It is best to borrow money from the federal government before turning to a private lender.

Private: Private loans should be your last resort. Be sure to shop around and compare rates from different lenders.