Homeschooling families are resourceful. We bond well, work efficiently together, and cheer each other on. Most families who choose to homeschool their kids have a college education in mind. When you make the calculations and discover the actual costs involved, sticker shock is a common way to feel. However, finding a way through the tricky world of college finances is something that you CAN do. How? There are numerous resources online. All you need is a bit of research and investigation, and you can net a valuable reward. So, in order to combat sticker shock, here are some tips on how to get through the college years with financial success.
Run a scholarship search. There are some great search tools available online to give you a leg up on the scholarship drive. There are tons of scholarships out there, and sometimes finding them is the hardest part! Certain scholarships are very specific. Categories such as particular religions, locations, and parental occupations, are just a few examples. It’s wise to start during your junior year of high school homeschool, so you can net a few scholarships even before you graduate!
- Scholarship Search Search 2.7 million local, state, and national college scholarships and grants by creating a profile with preferences and key interests.
- Big Future Find scholarships, other financial aid, and internships, from more than 2,200 programs, totaling nearly $6 billion. Enter as much information as possible to find the best matches.
- Salt Scholarship Tool Large and excellent search tool for locating scholarships.
Plan to work — and take classes — during the summer. If you take a couple online high school homeschool classes, or even a class or two at a local community college, it can make a huge difference in your education. You could even graduate a semester early! This can be a huge advantage in the job market because you enter it at a time when there are fewer brand-new graduates competing for positions. Companies don’t just hire in June; they hire when they need people.
Don’t look down at a season of community college. Community colleges often get an undeserved bad reputation. Some of these schools offer a great education at an amazing price. It’s worth looking into for a semester or two of general ed credits that can be completed while living at home, before transferring to your dream school.
Consider professional advice. Be sure to take your time when applying for financial aid, and don’t shy away from seeking professional help because of cost. Simple mistakes could cost you tens of thousands of dollars. Talk to a financial aid representative for advice at the schools you applied to. Learn more about the college’s or university’s scholarship or financial aid program. You’ll be wiser about what kinds of choices you want to make regarding your college finances.
Check to see if you are qualified for federal aid. There are many factors that contribute to qualification, so don’t count yourself out before checking. To receive any form of federal financial aid — which includes Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), Perkins Loans, Stafford Loans, PLUS Loans and Federal Work-Study jobs — you must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known by its acronym, FAFSA.
Limit Living Expenses. When it comes to college, every penny counts. That means every cost-cutting and frugal-living technique should be your number one priority. Living on your own is by no means an easy feat, but it can be done. Whether you’re still in high school homeschool or you’ve already decided on a college, start an Excel workbook or Google Sheet document to create a budget. There are many forms out there, such as this one from NerdWallet, or perhaps use an app found here from Rasmussen College. Have your parents guide you through the process. With a budget, you can be sure that no expense will not be tracked!
Move Forward. The expense of college can be managed through careful planning. You’re moving from high school homeschool to an experience that’s wonderful and challenging at the same time. From scholarships to FAFSA to budgets, you’re bound to find something that works for you. College finances don’t have to be stressful. Remember, where there’s a will, there’s a way.