Getting a college education offers chances to get a job that offers higher salaries and more advancement opportunities. The downside is, college can be expensive, especially without financial aid. Students all over the country depend on some form of financial aid and scholarships in order to afford the cost. Most aid and scholarships are awarded by the end of March, which means that if you were late in applying, or you just recently made the decision to go to school, you may be scrambling to find the necessary funds. Here are a few last-minute options that can help you get the money you need fast.
Check Your Taxes
The American Opportunity Tax Credit offers up to a $2,500 tax refund each year to those who qualify. Unfortunately, most people aren’t aware that they qualify, so, therefore, don’t claim it. You usually have up to 3 years from the date you filed to amend your tax returns. This means that if you qualified for the credit, but didn’t claim it, amending a few of your past returns could be a big help.
Ask Family for Help
You may not feel comfortable asking family for help, but if you need money fast, it is a good option. Find out if anyone in your family would be willing to contribute to the cost of your tuition, or even books, supplies and other necessities. You might even consider asking family members to contribute to a college savings account or 529 plan.
Take a look around your home. Are there things lying around that you no longer use, but are still in good condition? Consider selling some of your belongings. With websites such as EBay, Craigslist and others, there is no shortage of places to list what you want to sell. You can even set up a good old-fashioned yard sale, and then sell the remaining items online.
Crowdfunding has quickly become a popular way for all kinds of people to get the funds they need. Websites like GoFundMe can be a great option for getting what you need to pay for college. You can create a blog, telling donors all about you, and upload fun, catchy videos. And using a consistent hashtag will help you to attract more donors.
Appeal to the Financial Aid Office
It’s always worth calling up, or going to the financial aid office. Even if you didn’t get in applications earlier, you can find out if any opportunities have opened up. Whether another student changed their minds, or the school received a donation, there may be money available that wasn’t there before.
Ask About Temporary Emergency Loans
Many colleges these days are offering temporary emergency loans in response to the recent economic issues. Bear in mind that these emergency loans are typically small and short-term. They may also require you to provide references.
Get on a Payment Plan
While a payment plan does not give you cash, or reduce the cost of college, it can help to reduce the shock factor of a hefty tuition bill. Many payment plans are set up through the college by a third-party vendor, and allow you to spread out the cost of your tuition over a period of 6 to 10 months, interest free. They may charge a small initial fee, but at least you will be able to give yourself some more time to gather the funds you need to get your bills paid.
Just because you got a late start and missed the application deadlines for financial aid, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the first semester of college later this year. With a little bit of homework, along with some creativity, you can pull together the funds you need to get your feet in the college classroom.