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Oregon Family Magazine

How to Pay for Freshman Year of College

04/05/2023 ● By Nadine Westwood

Freshman year of college is usually a challenging, big step, and you need all the help you can get, especially when it comes to important decisions like how to pay for college in general.

With this in mind, here are some ways to pay for your freshman year–and college in general.

1. Scholarships

Scholarships are among the most common ways to pay for a college education. Universities or colleges give out many scholarships, but many others are available from foundations, businesses, and government organizations.

Many scholarships require you to fill out an application form and provide your transcripts or test scores for consideration. The admission board may also inquire about your high extracurricular activities –like sports or athletics clubs.

Some scholarships require essays on why you want to earn your degree at a particular university or college. Thus, it’s essential to consider what degree you want and what career path you hope to follow after college.

2. Grants

Grants are free money. The government or other organizations award them based on merit and need.

Some grants depend on GPA and SAT/ACT scores, while others rely more on extracurricular activities like sports or music. You can use grants to pay for your tuition, room/board (or housing), books, transportation costs–and just about anything related to college.

You’ll still have to find ways to pay for food and other expenses with money from a job or personal savings account. However, grants can help you offset some of these costs, thus helping you keep your budget in check during this exciting but also challenging time of your life.

3. Part-time jobs

Part-time jobs are available on and off campus. For example, look at the local newspaper or online classifieds for part-time position listings. Common jobs ideal for a freshman or college student include working at a corner store, restaurant, retail store, mom-and-pop, or another business close to the school.

If you have babysitting or nanny experience, you can use that experience to help pay for freshman year–and college in general too! If not, there are plenty of opportunities where employers will pay someone with no prior experience willing to learn quickly and work hard (for example, in retail stores).

4. Friends and family

If you have family and friends who can help with college costs, do not hesitate to ask, especially if you’re really struggling. However, keep the following tips in mind before going down this route:

  • Be grateful for their help. You will be spending a lot of time away from home during your freshman year; because of this, when you ask for funds from friends and family members, appreciate everything they do for you.
  • Write the exact things you will buy with the money you ask for (e.g., textbooks). This way, the friends and family members who help you will know what their funds are buying and how they’re helping you.

5. Diversity grants

Diversity grants are awarded to students based on their background and financial need.

Private organizations, not the government, offer these grants and often provide funding for students who have overcome certain obstacles or come from underrepresented groups in higher education. The most common recipients of these awards are first-generation college students (students whose parents did not attend college).

You may also qualify for diversity grants if you’re an ethnic minority, have a disability or particular need, can demonstrate financial hardship, are LGBTQIA+, etc.

6. Privates student loans

Loans are any money you may borrow from a creditor; they can be federal or private.

Federal loans are governmental and often come with fixed interest rates, but private student loan funding may have variable rates that change from year to year.

Federal student loans are also subsidized or unsubsidized. When you’re in school and receiving a subsidized loan, your government will pay for all your interest while studying. However, if you receive an unsubsidized loan instead (which is more common), you’ll have to pay back all of that accrued interest yourself once you graduate.

Consider getting a co-signer on your student loans if yours doesn’t offer a good loan limit or favorable terms. However, remember that this person would then share the responsibility for paying off the debt. Therefore, only take this route if you can manage the monthly payments without overwhelming yourself.

College is not cheap, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the available options. The financial aid process can be a handful, but we hope this guide has helped clear up some of the confusion for you.