June 15, 2011
Pay-for-college

Paying for college

Here you are, getting your education—maybe based on a lifelong ambition to do so, or maybe because you know it’s the step that will make the pursuit of your career dreams possible. But college can be expensive. What are the different avenues to foot the bill? Here are a few ideas:

 

Apply for financial aid

You’ve heard it before—you must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Why? Because there are billions of dollars in government funding for college and you will likely receive some aid. But you won’t know if you don’t apply, so get started now. Remember: Most aid programs are need-based and awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis, so you should apply early (ideally before March 1 to meet most financial aid priority dates).

Apply for the College Opportunity Fund

As a resident of Colorado, you are automatically eligible for the College Opportunity Fund. This means that the state pays a portion of your tuition at any other public institution in Colorado. It’s a great benefit, and all you have to do to get this stipend—which is immediately applied to reduce your in-state tuition—is apply. Then, you authorize COF each semester. Learn more about the College Opportunity Fund.

Make friends with the financial aid folks

One of the first things you should do when applying to a college is stop by the financial aid office. Financial aid representatives are there to help students navigate the financial aid process. Use them! They’ll help you understand the different types of federal financial aid (grants, loans, work-study, and scholarships), how to apply for financial aid and more. Learn more about how to apply for financial aid at FRCC.

Talk to your employer

Does your employer offer tuition reimbursement? Even if they do not have a formal program, if you’re a long-time and/or dedicated employee, consider discussing tuition reimbursement and the benefits for you and them. By investing in you, they’ll be improving your skills, making you a better worker all around.

Take advantage of low tuition at community colleges

Two years at a community college can save you thousands of dollars, and the even better news is that you won’t sacrifice in quality. Most community colleges employ instructors with excellent real-world experience—people who truly care about giving all students access to affordable education. And because the teachers are not required to do research, they focus their full attention on teaching students. At FRCC, tuition costs vary by campus and program, but as a general guideline, in-state residents who apply for COF pay just $96 per credit hour. That’s about a third of what it the big state universities charge, and it adds up when taking 30 credits a year. View FRCC tuition.

Take guaranteed transfer credits and save thousands

Ever heard of gtPathways? It’s the state of Colorado’s statewide guaranteed transfer program. The gtPathways curriculum applies to all Colorado public institutions, which means that as long as you choose from the Department of Higher Education’s set of general education courses, you can transfer these classes to any public college or university in the state. FRCC has more than 125 courses in 34 subject areas that are guaranteed to transfer. Learn more about transferring out of FRCC.

What other ideas have worked for you? Share your ideas below.

About the author:

Michaele Charles is the founder of Voice Communications and writes frequently for higher education institutions, small businesses, corporate clients, and others. She also is a fledgling children’s writer. In her pre-writing life, she worked in accounting and finance.

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