Paying for college was problematic even before COVID-19. Nevertheless, the outbreak has introduced new matters into the issue of college affordability. You may have lost an onsite work-study position. Additionally, your parents may have had to use some of your college fund to cover expenses brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
If you are struggling to pay for college due to COVID-19, all hope is not lost. There are steps you can take to still pay for college:
Create A Budget
Paying for college is a personal finance issue. Consequently, with any situation in this sphere, one of the first things you should do is create a budget. A budget shouldn’t make you feel bad or feel limiting. It is a tool that shows you where your money is going. Knowing how much you have to work with each month lets you know the money you need to cover your college costs. Use this time to list all of your expenses—school-related and non-school related. Then, you will have a better idea of what you need.
Always Fill Out the FAFSA
FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This process enables you to see the federal financial support that you qualify for. Depending on your family’s income, you could be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant, or need-based financial aid from the school you’ve selected. In addition to filling out the FAFSA, make sure you are researching need-based support in your state. There could be organizations or state-level programs offering additional funding for college.
Apply for Merit-Based Scholarships
Did you do a lot of community service in high school? Did you have a high GPA, and a high SAT or ACT score? If so, you could be eligible for merit-based scholarships. You can search through your school’s website for these scholarship opportunities. In addition to high test scores and grades, scholarships can be awarded for talent or skills as well as for service. Lastly, be sure to take a look at your school’s departmental website (if you’ve selected a major). Your department may have their own merit-based scholarships.
Use Your Talents to Make Money Online
In between those online—or in-person—classes, you can use your skills to make money. Are you a writer or graphic designer? Use those talents to provide freelance services to small businesses. Are you skilled in making usable crafts or art? Consider selling your goods on Etsy, you can start to sell gold jewelry. Do you have some knowledge to share with others? You can write an ebook or create an online course to sell to the public. We all have skills. Why not use these talents to make some extra money and even jumpstart a side hustle?
Get an Online Job
Again, much like freelancing or starting a side hustle, you can gain some extra money by working an online job. You can pursue:
- An online data entry position
- A virtual assisting job
- Teaching English online (some companies do not require you to have a college degree to teach)
- Tutoring individuals
Depending on the number of hours you are willing to work, these opportunities can help you put a decent dent in that tuition.
Decrease Your Costs
Some colleges are planning to reopen this fall, which means dorms may be available to move in to. However, room and board come at a considerable cost. You could avoid this price tag and save money by staying off-campus. You can live in a more affordable apartment, or even stay with family. Next, see if you can save money on costs like books or class resources. Your textbooks could be available to borrow at your library. Also, you can share the cost of the book with friends or classmates. Again, this is where a budget is valuable to see all your school-related costs so you can create a viable plan to decrease them.
The COVID-19 Pandemic Doesn’t Have to Derail Your College Plans
Even though the COVID-19 outbreak is causing everyone to embrace a new normal, it doesn’t have to keep you from going to college. Also, you are not alone. A survey by OnceClass found that 56 percent of respondents felt they would not be able to pay for tuition due to COVID-19. Gain control of this situation by creating a budget, and then start locating other opportunities for aid. With a strategy and determination, you can find the funds you need to attend college during COVID-19.
For more help in reducing the cost of college, read: 4 Smart Tips to Reduce Expensive College Fees