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The Real Deal: Where to Get Money for College

November 16, 2021
An illustration shows a hand dropping a coin into a piggy bank, with a stack of books, globe, and graduation cap in the background

Now that we’ve gone step-by-step through how to choose the right college for you in Choosing the Right College – In 5 Simple Steps, it’s time to talk money. You already know college is a big investment. Getting money to help cover college costs can help you minimize your monetary investment while still maximizing the investment you’re making in your future. After all, college really is an investment in YOU. So, get ready, because we’re going to dive deep into finances as we walk you through how to get the “big bucks” and afford your college education.


Did you know that doing well in high school pays? Literally. The better you perform academically throughout high school, the more opportunities you'll have to get money in the form of scholarships!

Scholarships are typically given to students as a reward for excelling inside the classroom and through extracurricular activities. This means any money you receive in the form of scholarships does not have to be paid back after you graduate college – it’s FREE MONEY. Scholarships can come in the form of one-time awards, or they can be dispersed to students by semester or school year. Merit scholarships, which are typically based upon grades and test scores, are usually decided during the acceptance process and are dispersed to a student each semester upon enrollment. Colleges and universities can also offer various other scholarships where students need to meet certain criteria to be considered. This includes alumni scholarships, religious scholarships, and more.

Don’t worry if you don’t believe you qualify for any of the scholarships offered by your school of choice. There are plenty of outside scholarships that you may qualify for. Use resources such as Fastweb, Sallie Mae, or Tuition Funding Sources to find additional outside scholarships. Be sure to check out the resources available through the high school counseling office as well. These types of scholarships typically require applications, but they can be well worth the time and effort when it comes to offsetting your college costs!

Financial Aid

We’re sure you’ve already heard about the importance of financial aid. Financial or federal aid is given to students based on financial need. And how is financial need determined? In order to qualify for any federal grants, you need to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Remember these dates: October 1 and June 30. These are the dates the FAFSA opens and closes for each school year. It’s important to have your FAFSA completed and submitted to your school of choice sooner rather than later to know what your out-of-pocket expenses will be to attend. The FAFSA is your ticket to getting any federal aid such as grants. Similar to scholarships, grants do not need to be repaid following college graduation. However, grants are not based on academic success. Instead, grants are determined solely on a student’s financial need.

If you’re interested in estimating your eligibility for financial aid to determine the affordability of your school of choice, try using a Net Price Calculator. All schools have a Net Price Calculator specifically for their institution that you can find on their website. Your “net price” is the difference between the cost of attendance and your financial aid. From here, you’ll be able to determine how much you may have to borrow through loans or pay out-of-pocket.

On-Campus Jobs

While you won’t be working 9-5 like Dolly Parton, finding a few hours a week to devote to an on-campus job is a great way to earn some extra dough while in school. Whether you put this extra money towards books or other campus expenses, that bit of extra income can go a long way. Check out the job boards at different schools to see what types of on-campus opportunities are available to students. You’re sure to find something that catches your eye (and wallet).


So, you’ve added up your scholarships, grants, and any income you’ll be making while in school but it still doesn’t cover your total costs. Now what? This is the time to take a look at your loan options. While free money is ideal to pay for college, most students will need a little extra to cover expenses not covered by scholarships and grants. Loans are what many students use to fill in the final gaps. Luckily, you have options when it comes to borrowing money through loans. Take a look at federal loans vs. private loans. This is your opportunity to compare how much money you qualify for and what interest rates are offered. Be sure to only borrow what you need at the lowest interest rate possible to avoid racking up unnecessary debt after graduation. Some places to start looking into possible loan options are elmselect.com and studentaid.gov.

Still have questions about how to afford your education? Don’t be afraid to ask! Talk to your school counselor, college admission counselor, or the financial assistance office at your school of choice. Our office at York College is always willing to answer any questions you have about paying for college. Reach out to our experts at financialaid@ycp.edu.