High school students anticipate heading off to college after graduation, yet college expenses can be demoralizing. Just how much will college set you back?
According to The College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2015-2016 school year was $32,405 at four-year private colleges; $9,410 for state residents at public four-year colleges; and $23,893 for out-of-state residents attending four-year public universities. There are additional costs to consider, too, such as housing, meals, books, school supplies, and transportation. While the cost of a college education continues to rise, many students find that their families are unable to foot the bill—so it’s time to understand your financial resources and secure your future so you know how to pay for college without parents.
Other Costs to Consider
As the college application process rolls around, you might start to feel butterflies from nervousness and excitement. Soon you begin to realize that not only does college cost money, but applying to college costs money too. Applying to college can cost from around on average $38 per school to Stanford University having the highest application fee in the nation at $90. Sending test scores or other application material to schools can also be expensive, currently SAT test scores are $50 to send.
Furthermore, getting into college should be one of the proudest moments of your life! But soon after feeling giddy, you’ll realize that college is incredibly expensive. Perhaps your financial aid package is a lot smaller than you had hoped or that you didn’t receive financial aid at all. College can cost anywhere from an average of $30,000 for private schools to $10,000 per year for public colleges. A college like the University of Southern California costs around $68,000 to attend per year with tuition and fees being about $50,000, room and board being $14,000, books and supplies being about $1,500, and then other expenses being around $1,500.
Exploring Financial Resources for College
Here are several key resource possibilities that you need to explore. First, apply for federal aid by filling out a FAFSA application, as you may qualify for aid. If you are the spouse or a child of a veteran, there may be military aid for you. The U.S. Department of Education gives grant money, work-study arrangements, and low-interest college loans. Explore how loan repayment and avoiding default works. State government aid is available, as well as nonprofit and private organizations that offer scholarships and grants. You need to do a bit of research to uncover each organization’s scholarship or grant details. There are educational awards for community service with AmericaCorps, and educational and training vouchers for former foster care youth. Plus, local civic organizations offer scholarships to high school seniors.
- Check with each specific college that you are interested in to learn their financial aid offerings. Contact the individual academic department that may give a department scholarship package.
- Take the tests required for your college choices, to show their admissions staff your qualifications. Apply to as many colleges as you can to increase the likelihood of getting a good financial package.
- Save, don’t spend, in order to build up your college fund. Work a part-time job if you have time after school or on weekends, and expand your working hours during the summer. Start thinking ahead and plan your strategy. This is your investment in your future, so take it seriously.
- Finally, explore ways to find more support from your high school teachers and counselors, friends and family, and state and federal government websites. Talk to people who can advise you on the process to get to college.
Crowdfunding for College
Don’t get disheartened about the expense of college. The price tag can seem overwhelming. But you can afford to pay for college. Another effective financial resource is crowdfunding. Thousands of students have found it an effective way to pay for their tuition and other expenses. Here are a few tips to help you create a successful campaign. Here are our tips on how to raise money for college:
Tip 1 – Tell Your Story Honestly
We’ve seen that donors love to know exactly who and where their money is going to. Tell your community about getting into your dream school, but realizing that $30,000 each year is impossible for you and your family to cover. Talk about all the things you could possibly learn and experience while in college and how each donation will make a huge difference. You can even break down the costs of college for your donors so that they know you didn’t make up your goal of tens of thousands. You can also include pictures of you visiting your college or pictures of all the studying and volunteer work you did to get to where you are today. Express your interest in returning the generosity and compassion to others to show your gratitude.
Tip 2 – Spread the Word
Be sure to let the whole world know you’re fundraising. It is less likely to see donations from strangers unless the story has been picked up by the news. Instead, most fundraisers earn their donations from their community of family, friends, and loved ones. Whether it’s a best friend from middle school or a teacher from elementary school, reach out to everyone you know or knew 5 or 10 years ago. We strongly suggest you have your friends and family share your fundraising page too so that you can tap into their communities for donations!
Also, share your fundraiser on all your social media platforms. Share it on Facebook and Twitter, and you can share it on Instagram by leaving the link in your bio. There is so much you can do to bolster your fundraiser’s reach. Try these 15 Simple Ways to Skyrocket Awareness for a Cause. And learn about Viral Fundraising to get your campaign in the spotlight.
Tip 3 – Make a Campaign Strategy
Come up with a campaign strategy. Figure out a fundraising goal and a breakdown of the average costs for college, then provide details about what you’d like to study, what area of study you are interested in pursuing, and why people should donate to your college fund. Use this campaign strategy template to get an idea. Provide weekly updates on your progress throughout the campaign to show how donations are helping you move closer to getting into college. Post images and videos to tell your story.
Tip 4- Forgo Birthday or Graduation Gifts
It’s probably your senior year of high school meaning you’re turning 18 and your relatives from all over are flying into town to see you graduate high school. Instead of getting birthday gifts, ask for donations for your college tuition fundraiser! Throw an 18th birthday party with a box for donations or include the link to your fundraiser in an “18th Birthday Celebration” Facebook event’s description. It’s also smart to ask all the relatives coming to support your dreams of going to college. If they’ve come all the way over just to watch you graduate, you already know they support you! Instead of having them buy you leis, ask them to donate money to your college fundraiser. These are two huge events where your tuition campaign can gain a lot of traction.
Tip 5 – Don’t give up!
Sometimes it’s hard not to feel discouraged if you don’t get donations at first or if your influx of donations stop, but be persistent! Not everyone will be able to donate the first time you ask them to, some may have even forgotten about it. But just keep asking. If Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media outlets aren’t working for you, try to revert to personal emails or text messages. Reaching out personally can often be the most effective way to get donations, especially if you include fundraiser milestones or updates about your college progress. Don’t let the cost of tuition stop you from going to your dream college.
6 Ideas To Raise Money for College
Supplement your online fundraising campaign with offline events. The following ideas can help you build your college fund.
Offer tutoring services to other students in a specific subject (or several subjects) you know well in exchange for a certain donation amount made to your fundraiser. Ask the school administrator if you can advertise your services on bulletin boards around the school (or in the dorms if at college), and be sure to promote on social media.
2. Karaoke Contest
Host a karaoke night to raise funds for your campaign. You can buy a cheap karaoke machine or rent one for the night, and then invite classmates, friends, family, and school faculty to join in on the fun. Your school auditorium would be the perfect place to hold singing competitions, and you can charge a flat rate donation as an entrance fee and for all participants.
3. Matching Donations
Reach out to local businesses (and family members and their friends) and ask if they would be willing to match donations up to a certain amount for your campaign. Approach businesses through work or where you have worked in the past. Offer to work for free for a period of time during the summer in exchange for the company’s matching contribution.
4. Game Night
Host a game night in your school gymnasium or at a local community center with fun trivia games, board games or even a casino night. Get creative and have some fun to entice people to join in on the activities. Charge a small entrance fee to participate and offer refreshments, with all proceeds going to your campaign.
5. Yard Sale
Ask your parents, other family members, friends, and neighbors to donate unwanted items to your college fundraising yard sale. Advertise the yard sale through your social media channels, alerting everyone of the date and time to make sure they stop by and look through your treasures. Then total up all of the funds you receive from sales and combine them with your online fundraiser.
6. Video Game-a-Thon
Ask students and faculty to vote for two, well-known video gamers within your school to play against each other in a video game-a-thon for a prize. Host the event at a rec center or school auditorium and ask students, friends, and family to place bets on who they think will win the competition with all proceeds going towards your fundraiser.
Remember, there are resources out there for you. You can make your educational dreams a reality with college fundraising. Since you want to be prepared, why not start raising funds for your college tuition now and create a free fundraiser today.