It’s no secret that a college education is often one of the most significant investments that anyone can make. In fact, in the 2020-2021 academic year, the average cost of tuition and fees at a private four-year university comes in at more than $41,000, according to U.S. News and World Report.
But however expensive college has become, there’s no doubt that it is still a worthwhile investment offering graduates a number of powerful benefits including increased earning potential, greater job security, and the opportunity for career advancement.
Once you understand the value of investing in a college education, the question is no longer “is it worth it?” but instead “how will I pay for it?”
Below, we explore a number of different resources available to help you pay for college so that you can make an informed decision about financing your education.
When it comes to paying for college, few resources are more favorable to students than scholarships. Scholarships are free money that, unlike loans (which we discuss below), does not need to be repaid after graduation. This makes them a high effective means of paying for school and reducing the overall financial burden of pursuing an education.
Scholarships can be awarded by the university you are attending, as well as local, national, and state organizations. They can be merit-based, or they can be awarded for reasons including your field of study, your ethnicity, your financial status, and more.
New to the scholarship search? There are many websites that specialize in helping you search for scholarships that you might qualify for, such as Fastweb, Chegg, Scholarships.com, and others. Your best bet is to try a number of resources in order to increase your chances of finding the best opportunities for you.
Like scholarships, grants are essentially free money that in most cases does not need to be repaid after graduation. Whereas scholarships can be offered for any of a number of reasons, grants are more often tied to a students specific financial situation and are, therefore, need-based.
Grants can be offered by both the federal and state governments as a part of a student’s financial aid package, adding one more reason to the list as to why you should complete your FAFSA application as soon as possible. They can also be granted directly from the university that you attend.
Popular federal grants include the Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), Academic Competitiveness Grant, and SMART Grant. State-based grants vary significantly depending on your state. In Massachusetts, for example, students automatically apply for the MASSGrant by completing their FAFSA application.
If the school you will be attending takes part in the Federal Work Study Program, and you demonstrate a certain level of financial need in your FAFSA application, then you may qualify for federal work study. Work study is a form of financial aid provided in exchange for part-time work that you perform for your university, allowing you to make money that you can use to pay for your college education while also building your resume with skills that future employers will want to see.
Exactly what work-study opportunities are available to you will be dependent on the school that you attend, but whenever possible it is wise to opt for a position that aligns with your desired future career.
Whether you’re an active-duty member of the military, a veteran, or the child of a veteran, you very likely qualify for a number of benefits under either the Montgomery GI Bill® or the Post-9/11 GI Bill®. Among other benefits, these bills provide funding that can be used to finance your college education. Students should consult with their VA office to understand what benefits apply to them.
While the exact amount of funding that you qualify for will depend on a number of factors, including how long you served, the maximum amount of educational funding you can expect as a part of your GI benefits is:
If the university that you are attending takes part in the Yellow Ribbon Program, then the school and federal government may help to cover an even greater percentage of your college expenses beyond these maximums.
If you have exhausted all other options for funding your college education and still have a gap to fill, student loans can help you fill that gap. That being said, because you will be responsible for paying back both the amount that you borrow as well as interest on these loans, it’s important to borrow only as much as is absolutely necessary to fund your education.
Student loans come in two main varieties: Federal student loans, and private student loans. Federal student loans are offered to borrowers by the federal government as a part of a student’s financial aid package. Private student loans, on the other hand, are offered by private lenders and have nothing to do with the federal government.
Because federal student loans carry relatively low interest rates, flexible repayment options, the possibility of forgiveness, and other key benefits, students should always seek to borrow federal loans before turning to private student loans, which tend to be much more expensive and much less flexible.
While federal and private student loans are the two main varieties that most borrowers encounter, it’s also important to note that state-run student loan programs exist, as do institutional loans offered directly by some colleges. For example, the Massachusetts Education Financing Association (MEFA) offers an alternative to private loans for borrowers who need more than is offered by federal aid. Check with your state and institution to understand all of your options.
Because some financial aid is provided on a first-come, first-served basis, students attending Regis College are encouraged to submit their FAFSA application as soon as possible each year in order to maximize their options for paying for college.
That being said, in addition to various state and federal aid available, Regis students may also be eligible for a variety of aid made available specifically to Regis students. This includes:
For more information about affording your Regis College education, download the Regis Award and Financing Guide, which speaks to these and other financing opportunities available to the members of our community.