Don't Pay More for College Than You Have To: Find Ways to Pay for School

About this article
The average college student graduates with over$20,000 in student debt. But it doesn't have to be that way. There are a number of different ways to finance a college education without taking out a pricey student loan. This article offers tips and resources to avoid paying top dollar.
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College Scholarships

Scholarships are the ultimate way to pay for school and avoid student debt. Like loans, scholarships are available from a variety of sources. Unlike loans, they don't have to be paid back. College scholarships are available from federal, local and state governments. Other scholarship sources include professional associations, community organizations and individual companies or benefactors. A number of colleges and universities also offer their own scholarship programs.

Search Sites for College Scholarships

  • FastWeb - This site is the Internet's largest source of local, national and college-specific scholarships. You can search FastWeb's database after registering for a free account.
  • Scholarships.com - This free site has been helping students find scholarships since 1998. Scholarship.com's searchable database contains more than 2.7 million college scholarships and grants.
  • CollegeBoard's Scholarship Search - CollegeBoard's free scholarship search engine contains more than 3,000 scholarship opportunities. The information you can find in this database is always up-to-date.
  • Sallie Mae Scholarship Search - Students can gain access to information on nearly 3 million scholarships when they use Sallie Mae's free scholarship search. Students can also create a search profile to stay current on the latest scholarship opportunities.
  • U. S. Dept. of Education Scholarship Search - A free scholarship search from the U.S. Department of Education. The majority of the scholarships in this database are school-based.

College Grants

College grants are another great way to pay for school. Like scholarships, grants don't need to be repaid. Another advantage to grants is that they are often need-based.

College grants are most often awarded through federal, state and local governments. Other grant sources include colleges, universities, public organizations, private organizations and individual benefactors.

Where to Locate College Grants

  • Students.gov - Th U.S. Department of Education site offers information on some of the federal grants available to college students.
  • CalGrants - This California Financial Aid Commission website offers information on grants that can be used at California colleges, universities, career schools and technical schools.
  • IEFA Scholarship Search - IEFA's mission is to provide financial aid and scholarship information to international students who want to study abroad. This site also provides grant listings.

State and Federal Aid

State and federal governments make aid available to college students each year. Billions of dollars are available to students who apply for it. State and federal aid includes grants, scholarships, low-cost loans and work study programs. Nearly every college student qualifies for some type of state or federal aid.

Where to Find State and Federal Aid

  • Federal Student Aid - This site is the official student gateway to apply for federal financial aid. Students can find information on applying for federal aid, scholarships and grants.
  • Federal Work Study - The Federal Work-Study (FWS) program is for low-income undergraduate and graduate students who want to earn money to pay for college.
  • State Higher Education Agencies - Your State Higher Education Agency is a great place to find information about the financial aid programs available in your state.

Other Sources of Aid

Scholarships, grants and government aid aren't your only options. There are many other programs out there designed to help students keep debt to a minimum.

Where to Find Other Financial Aid Options

  • CLEP College Search - There are nearly 3,000 colleges and universities that award course credits to students who perform well on CLEP exams. Fewer required courses equal a smaller tuition bill. You can use this search engine from the College Board to find colleges and universities that grant credit for CLEP accomplishments.
  • GreenNote - This social networking site provides an alternative to high-cost student loans. Every student is eligible for a GreenNote loan regardless of credit history or citizenship status.
  • Tuition Reimbursement - More than 50 percent of major employers offer some form of tuition reimbursement or assistance. This article explains how you can get your employer to pay for your college education.

Popular Schools

  • Campus and Online Programs
    1. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science - Film Production
      • MS - Entertainment Business (Campus)
      • MS - Game Design (Campus)
      • M.S. - Entertainment Business
      • M.S. - New Media Journalism
      • Master of Fine Arts - Creative Writing
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Sportscasting (Campus)
      • Bachelor of Science - Software Development
      • BS - Creative Writing for Entertainment (Campus)
      • BS - Film (Campus)
      • BS - Media Communications (Campus)
      • BS - Computer Animation (Campus)
  • Online Programs Available
    2. American University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication
      • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication - Advocacy and Social Impact Concentration
      • Master of Arts in Economics
      • Master of Public Administration and Policy
      • Master of Science in Healthcare Management
      • Master of Science in Human Resource Analytics and Management
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Liberty University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor Of Education - Leadership
      • Doctor of Education - Curriculum and Instruction
      • DBA: Healthcare Management
      • DBA: Marketing
      • DBA: Project Management
      • DBA: Human Resources
    Master's
      • MA: Communication
      • MA: Professional Counseling
      • Master of Arts in Public Policy - Public Administration
      • MA: Applied Psychology: Developmental Psychology
      • MA: Applied Psychology: Industrial Organizational Psychology
      • MA: Human Services Counseling: Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Trident University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Business Administration (Ph.D.)
      • Health Sciences (Ph.D.)
      • Doctor of Business Administration
      • Educational Leadership (Ed. D.)
      • Educational Leadership (Ph.D.)
    Bachelor's
      • Computer Sciences (BSCS)
      • Business Administration (BSBA)
      • Human Resources Management (BSHRM)
      • Homeland Security (BSHLS)
      • Information Technology Management (BSITM)
      • Leadership (BSL)
    Associate's
      • Professional Studies (ASPS)
    Certificate
      • CMCB - Certificate in Medical Coding and Billing
  • Online Programs Available
    5. The George Washington University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSHS Medical Laboratory Sciences
      • MSHS in Immunohematology and Biotechnology
      • MSHS in Molecular Diagnostic Sciences
      • MSHS in Translational Microbiology
      • MSHS Clinical Operations & Healthcare Management
      • MSHS in Clinical Microbiology
    Bachelor's
      • BSHS in Clinical Operations and Healthcare Management
      • BSHS in Medical Laboratory Sciences
      • BSHS in Biomedical Informatics
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Independence University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Information Systems (MS)
      • Nursing Administration (MS)
      • Nursing Education (MS)
    Bachelor's
      • Accounting (BS)
      • Business Administration (BS)
      • Business Administration - Human Resources Emphasis (BS)
      • Business Administration - Marketing Emphasis (BS)
      • Business Administration - Technology Emphasis (BS)
      • Health Services Management (BS)
    Associate's
      • Medical Assisting (AOS)
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice with an Emphasis in Educational Leadership
    Master's
      • MA in Curriculum and Instruction
      • MS in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies
      • M.A. in Reading with an Emphasis in Secondary Education
      • M.Ed. in Early Childhood
      • M.Ed. in Special Education: Cross-Categorical
      • MS in Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
      • BS in Early Childhood
      • BS in Elementary Education / Special Education (Dual Major)
      • B.S. in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education
      • B.S. in Elementary Education with an Emphasis in Christian Education
      • Bachelor of Arts in History for Secondary Education (ITL)
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Purdue University Global

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
      • Master of Science - DNP Path (Doctor of Nursing Practice)
    Master's
      • MS in Psychology - Forensic Psychology
      • Master: Legal Studies
      • MS in Psychology
      • Master of Public Health
      • MBA: Human Resources
      • MBA: Health Care Management
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Liberal Studies
      • Bachelor of Business Admin
      • BSBA - Investment
      • BS in Liberal Studies Leadership
      • Bachelor: Nutrition Science
      • Accelerated MS in Finance Option
    Associate's
      • AAS in Legal Support and Services
      • AASBA in Food/Hotel Management
      • Associate: Criminal Justice
      • Associate: Accounting
      • AASBA -Entrepreneurship
      • AAS in Information Technology - Multiplatform Software Development
    Certificate
      • Medical Assisting Certificate
      • Human Services Certificates in Child and Family Services
      • Graduate Certificate in Addictions
      • Graduate Certificate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology
      • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certificate
      • Postbaccalaureate Certificate - Pathway to Paralegal
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Walden University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment
      • PhD in Criminal Justice - General
      • PhD in Criminal Justice - Online Teaching in Higher Education
      • PhD in Education - Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment & Evaluation
      • PhD in Education - Learning, Instruction & Innovation
      • PhD in Psychology - Teaching
    Master's
      • MS in Education - Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment (Grades K-12)
      • MS in Education - Self-Designed
      • MS in Education - Elementary Reading & Literacy (Grades PreK-6)
      • MS in Education - Elementary Reading & Mathematics (Grades K-6)
      • MS in Education - Mathematics & Science (Grades K-8)
      • MS in Education - Mathematics (Grades 5-8)
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Colorado Christian University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice in Visionary Leadership
    Master's
      • Criminal Justice, M.S.
      • Business Administration, MBA - Emphasis in Advanced Accounting
      • Business Administration, MBA - Emphasis in Health Care Administration
      • Business Administration, MBA - Emphasis in Leadership
      • Business Administration, MBA - Emphasis in Project Management
      • Curriculum and Instruction, M.A. - Emphasis in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse
    Bachelor's
      • Psychology, B.S.
      • B.S. Applied Psychology: Biblical Studies
      • B.S. Accountancy
      • B.S. Business: International Business
    Associate's
      • Criminal Justice, A.S.
      • Psychology, A.S.
      • Communication Studies, A.A.
      • Business Administration, A.S.
      • Health Care Administration, A.S.
      • Human Resource Management, A.S.

Featured Schools

Full Sail University

  • Master of Science - Film Production
  • MS - Entertainment Business (Campus)
  • BS - Sportscasting (Campus)
  • Bachelor of Science - Software Development

What is your highest level of education?

American University

  • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication
  • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication - Advocacy and Social Impact Concentration
  • Master of Arts in Economics

What is your highest level of education?

Liberty University

  • Doctor Of Education - Leadership
  • Doctor of Education - Curriculum and Instruction
  • MA: Communication
  • MA: Professional Counseling

What is your highest level of education?

Trident University

  • Business Administration (Ph.D.)
  • Computer Sciences (BSCS)
  • Professional Studies (ASPS)
  • CMCB - Certificate in Medical Coding and Billing

What is your highest level of education completed?

The George Washington University

  • MSHS Medical Laboratory Sciences
  • MSHS in Immunohematology and Biotechnology
  • BSHS in Clinical Operations and Healthcare Management
  • BSHS in Medical Laboratory Sciences

What is your highest level of education?

Independence University

  • Information Systems (MS)
  • Accounting (BS)
  • Medical Assisting (AOS)

What is your highest level of education completed?

Grand Canyon University

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice with an Emphasis in Educational Leadership
  • MA in Curriculum and Instruction
  • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education

What is your highest level of education?

Purdue University Global

  • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
  • MS in Psychology - Forensic Psychology
  • Bachelor: Liberal Studies
  • AAS in Legal Support and Services
  • Medical Assisting Certificate

Which subject are you interested in?