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Paying for College

One of the biggest barriers for students to attend college is the cost. Tuition prices continue to rise, and for many families, it simply seems out of reach. However, there are many different forms of funding and options to lower the actual out-of-pocket expense.

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Key Takeaways

  • College in the US can be expensive when adding up tuition, room and board and other expenses
  • Students can apply for academic scholarships and financial aid to cover costs
  • Talented athletes can also receive athletic scholarships to cover almost all expenses

1) College Costs & Expenses

Going to college in the United States can cost a lot of money and can be one of the greatest barriers for students to attend college. Tuition prices continue to rise, and for many families, it simply seems out of reach. On average, the annual tuition fees range between $25,000 to $50,000. One example overview of the associated cost and fees for an academic year can be found below.

Average cost per academic year of a student in the US

Tuition Fees $ 25,000
Costs of living (room & board) $ 10,000
Books & Supplies $ 500
Health Insurance $ 500
Semester fees $ 2,000
Total $ 38,000

To make education more affordable most schools offer a wide range of scholarships and other forms of funding to lower the actual out-of-pocket expense. The most popular scholarship types that college students can choose from are athletic- and academic scholarships. In order to optimize your financial support you need to understand the regulations, requirements and opportunities for both.

Tip – You can find a more detailed breakdown of the Average Cost of College & Tuition for both public and private schools on

2) Scholarships

Athletic Scholarships

Athletic scholarships are available to those with great talent and superior athletic abilities, however keep in mind there are many scholarships available at different divisions and a wide variety of schools where you may have the talent they are looking for. Learn more about  Athletic Scholarships

Academic Scholarships

Academic scholarships are available to those with an impressive academic performance in high school. However, many schools offer some form of academic scholarship to students to help make school more affordable. Learn more about Academic Scholarships.

General Scholarships

There are many nonprofit and private organizations that offer scholarships to help students pay for college. Oftentimes these scholarships are based on academic merit, talent, or a particular area of study. Finding scholarships can sometimes be difficult, and it is important to be aware of possible scams (i.e. you shouldn’t have to pay to apply for scholarships). A good way to look for scholarships is to ask trusted resources, such as the financial aid office at your college, a high school counselor, community organizations, or use the U.S. department of labor’s free Scholarship Finder tool.

3) Federal Student Aid

Loans, Grants & WorkStudy

The U.S. Department of Education office of federal student aid provides more than $120 billion in financial aid to help students pay for college. There are many different programs offered by the federal government to provide funding. However, Federal Student Aid only applies to domestic students, and requires the completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Loans are directly borrowed from the federal government, most of the time with a low and fixed interest rate. These loans would require repayment upon graduation.

Grants represent need-based financial support issued by the state or federal government, without any obligation to be paid back. Therefore, most grants are only available for domestic students.

WorkStudy is a federal program that funds part-time jobs for students with financial needs. The jobs have to be located mainly on or near the school’s campus.

Private Loans

There are also private loans available to help students fund college, these types of loans are offered by banks and financial institutions and are based on your credit profile. If you’re applying for a private student loan, having a creditworthy cosigner should increase your chances of approval and help you get a better interest rate. Generally speaking, private loans shouldn’t be a student’s first option, they are usually implemented after a student takes out federal student’s loans, if they still need more money to cover their education expenses.

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