It’s official: You know where you're going to college, what you want to study and even where you're going to live. What you don’t know—at least not quite yet—is how you’re going to pay for it all. Many college students turn to student loans or Mom and Dad to help pay for their higher education, but there are other ways to fund your collegiate dreams. These ideas require some hard work and a decent amount of moxie, but they're doable. Consider the following:
Assisting your fellow human beings can help pay for college. AmeriCorps is a network of more than 3,000 faith-based and other nonprofit organizations, including well-known charities like Habitat for Humanity and the American Red Cross. While the pay is not going to make you rich by any means, students who serve through AmeriCorps could earn a scholarship worth $5,500. You can also earn additional scholarship money if you attend one of the 70-plus schools that are linked to AmeriCorps, including noted universities like Duke, Princeton and New York University.
Sell Your Assets
While you may not have a valuable stamp or coin collection that you can sell to pay for college (but if you do, by all means get some estimates), you may have other things you can sell to help cover college tuition. For example, if you were injured in a car accident and have been receiving regular payments through a structured settlement, you may be able to sell all or some of your future payments to a company like J.G. Wentworth for a lump sum of cash now. This can help you pay for tuition, books and other school-related expenses.
Go Outside the Scholarship Box
You’ve probably researched traditional scholarships online, and you may have spoken to the financial aid department at your school about possible scholarship money. While this is a great approach, College Xpress notes a surprising number of offbeat and even wacky scholarships that don’t usually end up on major search engines. For example, there’s actually a scholarship at Juniata College in Pennsylvania only for left-handed people. Other scholarships include one for vegetarians who do the best job of promoting their dietary lifestyle in their community and a Potato Industry scholarship for budding agribusiness students.
Consider a Co-op
Co-ops enable students to pay for a large amount of their college bills by working. Most undergraduates who participate in a co-op program earn more than $16 an hour, and some make more than $40 per hour. Once you enroll in the co-op program on your college campus, you’ll spend a year meeting with employers at job fairs. After landing a position, you’ll go to school while working at your co-op-related job. As a major bonus, college students who are part of the co-op program don’t have to pay tuition, and some may not be required to pay for their room and board while they are working at their jobs, which usually last for about 12 weeks at a time. While earnings are subject to taxation, they do not get included in financial aid calculations, which means your co-op-earned money will go a lot further in paying for your education. Forbes features more in-depth information about college co-ops.