The Game of College Life: Paying For College
The Game of Life is simple. Take out a $40,000 to cover college tuition, earn a college degree in general studies, and then select your chosen profession. What follows is an illogical and strangely addicting experience.
You take out another loan for an obscenely expensive mansion. Don’t want to be a teacher anymore? Go ahead and become one of the most unqualified doctors ever! And I know you can repay the loan now, but why bother? I wish life was as simple as The Game of Life, but real life is a tad more complicated.
Let’s start with the tuition. Tuition varies from university to university depending on whether the institution is a non-profit, for-profit, state, or private. And it can even vary between program to program depending on whether it’s a two year, four year, bachelor or master program. The cost of attending college can range anywhere from thousands to ninety-thousand dollars. For example University of Cincinnati’s two year Medical Laboratory program costs $27,540. On the other end of the spectrum the University of Southern California’s two year Master of Public Health program costs $75,294. Either way, that’s a lot of money you’ll need to come up with.
The answer to the tuition problem that the Game of Life presents is to take out student loans. Millions of students each year choose to utilize the ability to take out student loans. It’s a strategy that I used myself. And thanks to the fact that my student loans continually accrue more interest, I could be repaying those loans when I’m old and decrepit. Fun stuff.
Do yourself a favor—do everything you can to ensure that you can pay for as much of your education up-front as possible. Here are a few strategies to decrease the amount of student loans you take out.
Hunt down government and state grants. The federal and state government will often set aside money to help individual’s pay for part of their education. For example, Ohio University’s Master’s in Nursing program received $4,989,080 in 2012 from the United States Department of Labor to help unemployed nurses receive their associate, bachelor or master’s degrees. The money was slated to be used in its entirety by the end of 2015. When deciding where to go to college, you might want to do some research on school’s that have received similar government grants.
Apply for as many scholarships as possible. Remember the more scholarships you apply for, the higher the chance you will win a few. You can’t beat free money. Here is a list of college scholarships to get you started. You can also locate scholarships listed on:
- Scholarship websites like Fastweb.
- The scholarship or financial aid pages of university websites.
Yet another twist to scholarships is through an essay writing contest. You can enter The Pensters essay writing contest and get a college scholarship.
Added Benefit From School
College tuition can be expensive, but some programs give students extra perks upon being accepted into the program. What kind of perks am I talking about? Here’s one example: the University of Southern California’s library science program provides students with the iPad minis, webcams, headsets, and textbooks they will be using in their classes. A small addition true, but it’s just one more way to save money in the long run.
Companies Who Pay for College
Seek out employment at a company that either pays for employees to pursue a college degree or pays for an employee’s education retroactively. The most common form of tuition reimbursement programs can be found in the public sector (public school teachers, psychologists, etc.). Some private companies offer to either reimburse tuition or pay for college, although that is rarer.
Just be aware that companies don’t usually offer to pay for their education out of the goodness of their hearts. They view your education as an investment that will benefit their company, so they often require recipients of the programs sign a contract saying they will either:
- Remain at the company for a pre-determined amount of time.
- Retain a certain grade point average.
In cases like these, you could say you’re temporarily selling your soul to receive a free education. Before signing up, I’d probably think hard about whether you’re capable of meeting the requirements. If the answer is no, you might want to pass on the program. Better to continue to pay off the tuition steadily, then have the company demand their money back in one big lump sum.
Juggling life, school, and a job can be difficult, but it can be done. And working part-time while pursuing a degree will allow you to cover more of your own expenses. If you want a job that is less of a time suck, you can pursue a work study position.
What is work study? Often, work studies tend to be part-time jobs at the university. There are a variety of jobs, but they often require the student to man the desk for certain stretches of time. The desk job often allows the student to study while on clock during quiet periods.
How do you land a work study position? Work studies tend to be given based on financial need, so your yearly income will need to be on the lower end. And due to the fact that there are only so many work study positions at every university, you will need to turn your FAFSA in as early as you can.
College is expensive—at time more expensive than the Game of Life prepares us for. Between high tuition cost and high interest rates, there is a very good chance you might be paying back your student loans for decades. To prevent your student loan repayments dipping into your retirement fund, you might want to proactively seek alternative means to pay off chunks of your college tuition up-front.