What to Do if Student Financial Aid Isn't Enough

Student financial aid can help cover the cost of tuition. Financial aid can be extended through a university at no cost to the student through grants and scholarships. Typically, financial aid is not issued in a high enough amount to cover tuition in full for the entire degree program. If it does cover this expense, financial aid rarely additionally extends to cover living expenses. If financial aid isn't enough for you, you are not alone, and there are plenty of options to pursue to make college affordable.

Community Aid

The first thing to keep in mind is that more organizations other than just your university itself can provide financial aid. For example, you may find your high school, church, city or a local non profit organization extends a small scholarship to college students. These grants are often offered based on your intended course of study. A student looking to become a teacher may find there is a program for teachers in their state that offers discounts and incentives on college tuition. Ask the financial aid office at your college about scholarships that may be available, and contact other students to learn about how they are financing college.

Federal Student Loans

Federal student loans are the next step to cover college tuition. It is important to note these loans, distributed by the US Department of Education, do not go toward living expenses in any way. They must be allocated toward tuition only. As a result, they will not be a source of help if you are looking for assistance with your living expenses. However, they can fill the gap between the final cost of your tuition and your financial aid with a flexible, low cost loan in nearly every case.

Private Student Loans

Private student loans may be slightly more expensive than federal options. This expense can be reduced by using private student loans as the last resort, meaning they will be low limit loans simply covering the small gap you have remaining. Private student loans are advantageous because they may be distributed to you instead of direct to the college. This means you can use the loans to buy books, pay for housing or choose a campus dining plan. Keeping the limits low, however, means you should not use these loans for entertainment expenses or other luxuries. Try taking a part time job in order to cover these types of expenses. 

Student Credit Cards

If you are working part time or over school breaks, you will have a small amount of cash needed to get through the year. Adding a credit card can help bridge the gap. Even a low limit student credit card can give you several thousands of dollars of financing throughout the school year. You can pay interest only on the debts for some period of time and aim to pay down balances during breaks when you begin earning an income again. Most colleges offer on-campus jobs to help students who are looking to work while attending school. 

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