How to Pay for College
Getting a college education is one of the best ways to get a leg up on your career. It helps you gain knowledge and skills over a short period of time to earn higher-paying salaries and get the career of your dreams.
There are many programs available for financial aid and their available on the Financial Aid website.
Don’t Qualify for Financial Aid? There are still resources! – Not everyone qualifies for financial aid, yet there are still many ways to get money for college.
What you can do before you start college – If you haven’t started college yet, there are ways you can save time and money, as well as maximize your options before you begin:
- Apply for Financial Aid – Completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) or CADAA (California Dream Act Application) is your first step to finding out if you qualify for federal- and/or state-funded financial aid. Many often believe they won’t qualify for financial aid, but keep in mind that there is a lot of financial aid that isn’t based on your or your family’s income level.
- Completing one of these applications automatically evaluates your information to find out if you qualify for dozens of grants, fee waivers, certain scholarships, federal loans, and on-campus work-study that offer you money towards your college education, most of which you don’t have to pay back!
- Apply for Scholarships – Here is a frequently untapped resource where millions of scholarship dollars go unused each year because students don’t take the time to apply. While it’s recommended to start applying even before your freshman year, if you’ve already started college, you can still apply!
- Attend a community college – You’ve already made a wise choice to attend a community college in the Los Angeles Community College District to start your academic journey where you will have you an outstanding education while saving thousands of dollars compared to attending a four-year university or college your first two years. LACCD makes it easy to transfer if you want to get a bachelor’s degree with transfer and consortium agreements to make sure you have the courses you need to continue your education. If it’s an option for you, you can also save thousands of dollars each year by living at home instead of paying for room and board if you attend a four-year university or college.
- Concurrent Enrollment – As a high school student, find out if your high school will allow you to take college classes. Free tuition is often given to high school students who take college classes. So, you can benefit from free tuition while taking needed college classes! This way, you can either finish college faster or take fewer units each college semester. Talk with your high school counselor about which college classes would be beneficial for your educational and career goals.
- Get a part-time job – Having a part-time job can really help you pay your expenses throughout the year. And, usually, with part-time jobs you can add more hours during school breaks. Just make sure you are able to prioritize and balance college with your work schedule. If you need help juggling school and work, talk with your academic counselor or with staff at the Career Center to discover tips on how to manage both.
- Get good grades in high school – We’re sure you’ve heard this before, but getting good grades really can open the possibilities of getting scholarships and other merit-based financial aid. Also, if you're up for the challenge, try to take as many AP classes your high school offers so you can skip introductory classes in college. If there’s a particular class that’s giving you a hard time, reach out to your instructor or high school counselor, even others in your class, to see what tutoring or study groups might be available to help you succeed.
- Internships – Build your resume while either getting school credit or getting paid. Find companies that are related to what you want to do and ask if they have paid internships, or you can ask your instructors if they know of any.
- Start a 529 Savings Plan – This is a way you and your parents can save money for college by placing a monthly amount or lump sum into a savings plan that slowly grows over time while also providing benefits such as income tax incentives. Parents usually start these while their child is young so the savings can build over time, but it’s still worth opening one even if you’re in high school. Every cent count, so saving even a little at a time really adds up!
- American Opportunity Tax Credit – If your parents can help you pay your college tuition, they may be eligible for a tax credit. The American Opportunity Tax Credit can give parents up to a $2,500 tax credit for each child they have in college where they pay tuition, fees, books, and living expenses. Find out more at irs.gov.
- Work for an employer who will help pay your tuition – Today there are many retail and service employers who not only offer part-time jobs to give you the flexibility you need to work around your college schedule, but they also offer benefits that can help you pay for some or all of your college tuition.
- Do a little online research to see which companies offer these amazing benefits.
- Start a side hustle – With a little extra time and an entrepreneurial mind, there are plenty of ways to earn extra money while in college. You can become a Notary Public agent or an online virtual assistant, become a video or website blogger. If you speak another language, become a translator or work for a virtual call center. Become a note-taker or a tutor. Look for pet-sitting, house-sitting, or babysitting jobs. If you’re good with computers, you can start your own computer assistance and repair businesses or help companies find hacks into their website they can correct. Become a movie extra or look for voice-over jobs.
- There are plenty of opportunities out there in today’s gig economy. Take a moment to research them and find the ones that work best with your skills and college schedule.
- Use loans as a very last resort – if you still need more money for college, loans are a way to cover those costs. Since loans accrue interest that you will need to pay in addition to the amount you borrowed, we highly recommend not using loans, if at all possible. Federal student loans are available through StudentAid.gov
- We offer Direct Loans that are unsubsidized, subsidized if you have financial need, and PLUS loans where parents can take out a loan for their child’s education.
- Your financial aid Award Letter will let you know how much you are allowed to borrow. If you do use a loan, we recommend you first figure out how much money you will need and only ask for that amount. You do not have to accept all of the money that is offered to you.
Put together a plan that allows you to use multiple resources to finance the college education that works best for you.
If you have any questions, contact the Financial Aid Office. You’ve made the decision to get ahead in life with a college education. Together, we can help you achieve your academic and career goals!