Not too many people can completely fund a college education by themselves, so it’s wise to figure out the best options to close the financial gap. That’s especially true if you’re thinking about an undergraduate degree plus graduate school – medical, chiropractic, nursing, dentistry, etc. Paying for college is a topic that should be discussed early in the process.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid office provides more than $120 billion each year in financial aid to help pay for college or career school.
When you’re a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, there are additional resources in paying for college, including the Yellow Ribbon Program that can cover graduate school tuition and fees that the Post-9/11 GI Bill doesn’t cover. Note: not all colleges participate in this program, so be sure to check.
Remember, the first step is to complete a no-obligation Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It’s free, and it’s the basis of determining how much financial aid you might receive.
You should file the FAFSA if you’re skeptical about qualifying for federal financial aid. Annual income by itself doesn’t determine eligibility.
A grant means the funds don’t have to be paid back. Grants are need-based and are helpful for those who have big career dreams but no easy way to afford them. Grant eligibility often depends on income levels and other variables.
The good news is that scholarships are financial gifts. The less-good news is that you may have to search them out, and there can be qualifying conditions, such as GPA.
Searching for scholarships that might work for you does take some time. There are many free search engines to start with, including www.fastweb.com.
Plus, the college or university you’re considering may have other scholarship opportunities. Although private and local scholarships may not be huge awards, it’s often possible to combine them. It never hurts to ask!
3. Federal Student Loans
The U.S. Department of Education offers low-interest loans that are helpful in paying for college. Information from your FAFSA application helps determine which loan programs apply to you. There are many different options.
Remember, too, that loans must be paid back, so at the same time, you’re learning about getting money, get educated about paying the money back. Different loan types will have different repayment plan options. Repayment doesn’t typically go into effect until six months after graduation, or you are no longer a student.
For priority consideration for fall 2022, your federal FAFSA application must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. Central time (CT) on June 30, 2023.
In addition, colleges and universities may have different FAFSA deadlines they use, so always check. Go here for state FAFSA information.
College admissions advisors will tell you to find a career category you not only like, but also one with a significant upside. In thinking about paying for college, it’s wise to consider the likely return on investment.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare occupations will grow 15% from 2020 to 2030. More than 20% of the U.S. population will age 65 or older by 2030, and with that comes the need to treat age-related conditions.
Consult career guidance websites, and you’ll discover careers you may not know much about, such as occupational therapy assistant (OTA) and radiologic technologists (diagnostic imaging technologists). These occupations, obtainable with a 2-year college degree, rank in the top 15 of “best healthcare support jobs,” according to U.S. News & World Report.
You may even want to explore the doctor of chiropractic (D.C.) or emerging careers in exercise science and exercise physiology. Want to explore the world of biological sciences? A B.S. in Human Biology is often the starting point for finding a rewarding, satisfying place in the world.
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private, chiropractic and health sciences university in Overland Park, Kansas, a major suburb of Kansas City. You can see view our degree options here.
Regardless of where you go to college or what degree interests you, be sure to educate yourself about paying for college. You might say it pays to know the financial aid options available. When you connect with our admissions advisors, you can download this free eBook: Your Guide to Navigating College Financial Aid.