Paying for College by Thinking Outside the Box

Paying for College by Thinking Outside the Box

Savings, Loans, Grants, Scholarships and Work, the five usual ways to pay for a college education. Work means the student supports themselves full time and pays for some or all of college.

But are there some different ways to pay for tuition, books, room and board and transportation? Let’s explore some other ways going from easier to harder:

Campus Jobs – That could fall into the Work category, but I’m describing full-time work outside the campus. Inside, there are a lot of part time jobs students can do to earn money and reduce their need for so much cash.

Military – Enlisting in one of the uniformed services opens up tuition assistance while serving and the GI Bill when you’ve completed your initial enlistment. I have a bias since that’s the way I paid for undergraduate and two graduate degrees. (I also have a lifetime pension)

Service Academy – Very competitive and it requires usually a six-year service commitment in the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard or Merchant Marines. Each of the three major academies has a prep school that takes applicants who didn’t make it and prepares them for the next year’s class. It means you have to enlist in the Reserves, but there is also no cost to attend. The Coast Guard and Merchant Marines use private schools and there is a cost.

Real Estate Investor – I listened to a podcast recently from BiggerPockets where a college student rented a house and then rented out enough rooms to pay the house rent and his college expenses. He did have parental help by having his parents co-sign the master lease. Before he left college, he was flipping houses and left college with no student debt.

Start a Business – Not sure that Uber will pay for college, but hawking items on eBay, delivering for Amazon, and then figuring out how to hire others and make a “fraction of the action” on their work can lead to income that could cover college expenses. One of the most lucrative businesses right now is being a YouTube creator. If you have enough subscribers you’re making good money. I read an article recently that presented 50 ideas for students to start a business while at college. Look for a problem that needs solving and people will pay for that solution.

Company Sponsorship – Go to work for a company that will pay for your college education if you are gaining skills they want. They usually reimburse you once you pass each course. It may take a few years and these companies are hard to find, but they’re out there. Starbucks is the best example that comes to mind. UPS, Smuckers and Procter and Gamble are more examples.

Good luck on searching outside the box. If you’re a student, your parents will thank you and be able to retire sooner.

Jim Ludwick
Jim Ludwick

Jim Ludwick is the founder of MainStreet Financial Planning. His varied education and life experiences have enabled him to apply his knowledge and experience into useful solutions for personal financial problems. His writing and broadcasting activities allow him to help many more than just individual clients. He loves a microphone.

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