Getting ready to leave the nest for college? Congratulations! That’s a huge step in your journey to higher education, and it’s one you should be extremely proud of. Whether you’re planning to live on or off campus or commute from home, your first taste of independence and the college experience is exciting to think about. 

Your mind is likely consumed with thoughts such as, “What should my major be?” “What will my roommates be like?” “Will I enjoy my classes?” “How will I adapt to campus life?” And trust me, I know the feeling and all of that is very exciting! Take it from me, I’m a mom to a new college student myself, and my son has had these exact same thoughts. But there’s one important piece missing, and it’s probably because it’s one of the least fun things to talk about—college tuition. 

Preparing for College Tuition Expenses

One of the last things on students’ minds is coming up with a plan to pay for college. If you’ve recently been accepted to your dream school, now’s the time to have the chat with your family about how exactly you’re planning to pay for school if you haven’t already. 

The rising cost of college tuition can be intimidating and overwhelming for students and families alike as you plan for your future. Will you look at federal loans? What about private loans? Should you apply for scholarships? Use some of your savings? All of the above?

Here are some of the ways you can afford college tuition expenses and alleviate the stress on yourself, your family, and your wallet. 

Know Your Resources 

Aside from what you plan to use out of your own pocket, my best advice would be to research and understand all your options so you can maximize financial aid coverage to its fullest extent. 

You’ve probably already heard of or are somewhat familiar with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process, so I’d suggest getting started there first. After you complete the FAFSA, your college of choice will determine the financial aid amount you qualify for. In many cases, though, you and your family may find that the government aid that you’re eligible for won’t exactly cover everything you had initially expected. Perhaps the aid coverage is too low, or even worse, you found that you don’t qualify at all. I know this is easier said than done, but don’t panic. There are still lots of other great options you can and should take advantage of. 

Once you find out how much you’ll receive in government aid, the next step would be to apply for scholarships. Apply for as many scholarships as possible. It’s free money, and every little bit helps toward your college education.

Some scholarships may require a little more time, effort, and thought by requiring a personal essay or letter of recommendation, while others have you fill out a quick personal information form. See what’s out there for yourself, and remember to apply for scholarships every year to help with tuition expenses. 

There are scholarships for practically anything you can imagine. Scholarships are granted to students based on academic performance, artistic or athletic abilities, volunteer efforts or community service, military service—you name it, and you’ll most likely find a scholarship out there that’s calling your name. Search helpful websites like niche.com or fastweb.com for scholarship offerings. 

Last but not least, don’t forget about your friendly neighborhood credit union’s scholarship program. GOLD is proud to support our Members that have dreams of earning a degree. Every year, we award scholarship funds in the amount of $1,500 to five lucky students pursuing higher education. We’ve already awarded our scholarships this year but be sure to keep your eyes peeled in December when we announce our 2022 GOLD Scholarship applications! 

Still need extra money to cover your tuition? If you’ve exhausted federal loans, scholarships, and, of course, your own savings, but you’re still coming up short, then now is the time to consider private student loans.  

Sallie Mae Student Loan Options 

Private student loans are the last borrowing option you should explore after you’ve maximized all the other funding opportunities. 

Through our partnership with Sallie Mae, we’re able to provide our Members with affordable student loan options:

Smart Option Student Loan for Undergraduate Students: Whether you’ve got your sights set on earning your associate’s or bachelor’s degree, or a certificate at a degree-granting institution, and need help with the remaining costs, you can cover the gap of your tuition expense with the Smart Option Student Loan®. This student loan option lets you choose from three repayment options and offers low interest rates with loan terms stretching up to 15 years. 

Parent Loan: That’s right parents and guardians, there are even loans that you can take out in your name to help foot the bill for your student as they venture through college. 

Graduate School Loan: So, you’ve finished four years of school, but you’re ready to go back for more? You can fund your MBA, medical school, dental school, law school, and more with the Sallie Mae Graduate School Loan.

College tuition costs can certainly be nerve-wracking and overwhelming, but we’re here for you as you navigate through this new and exciting chapter of your life. Give our lending team a call and we’ll help you come up with a plan that lessens some of the stress that comes along with paying for college: 484-223-4216. 

Jenn Gora

Jenn Gora

Jenn is the Chief Communications Officer at GOLD. In her role, she directs the marketing and communication activities that assist in GOLD’s Membership growth. Jenn believes wholeheartedly in GOLD’s mission and is extremely proud to be part of a team that exists to help the community and change people’s lives. 

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