Cracking The Code: How to Pay for College

Whether you’re a student or a parent, financing a degree can be one of the most daunting parts of a college experience. This can be especially true if you or your student is a first generation college student. So, really, how do you pay for college?

Thankfully, there are different options out there to get the money you need.


Before you even get to this step, make sure you have compared your financial aid offers.

RELATED: Getting Ready to Pay for College (from Sallie Mae)

After you’ve done that, sit down and calculate how much money you will need to get through the semester. To get this number down, maybe see if you can find a part-time job (although if you are a freshman, I don’t recommend it right away).

If you end up having to get private loans, be sure to shop around for the best interest rates. Be sure to look at repayment options as well as any additional fees before you make your choice. Your university may recommend some options, but you are not required to use them.  


Many universities have scholarships for students who are from certain counties, states, ethnicity and race, or who are studying a particular subject in school. Be sure to apply for as many as you can in order to keep your costs low.

RELATED: Scholarships Provide Freedom

If you are a first generation college student, there are also some scholarships that are targeted towards you to help pay for college.

Work Study

In some cases, students are able to work for the university in order to receive funds to help alleviate their education costs. This can be in dining halls, the library, or even in the financial aid office. If you want to participate in work study, be sure to apply for aid early because funds for this program are limited.

RELATED: Is Your College “Gapping” You? What is Gapping and Why Do They Do It?

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