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.
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.
- Share the news that you are raising money to put yourself through college. Be sure to use social media networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, to spread the word about your campaign online. Encourage all of your friends, family members, and other connections to share your fundraiser on their networks.
- 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 about 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. Express your interest in returning the generosity and compassion to others to show your gratitude.
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.