7 Unconventional Ways to Earn Money Towards Your Kid’s Dream Degree

College is a big expense, and saving for it can be stressful for both parents and students. It’s easy to make mistakes in this process of saving and paying for an education. We all know about filling out the FAFSA. 

But let’s talk about 7 unique strategies for saving and paying for college, including ways to make extra money and save on tuition. 

Deposit funds into a college savings account

There are various types of college savings accounts that can help you save money for college. Some schools allow parents to pre-pay tuition, ensuring current tuition rates rather than the inflated price it will surely grow to in the next several years. You could also use a Section 529 Education Savings Plan to save and compound funds over time. 

The trick is to start saving as early on as possible to get the most out of these options and perhaps explore some additional ways to make some extra money for college expenses. 

Encourage scholarship applications

Scholarships may not be unconventional, but they are still underutilized ways for students to earn money for college. Search around for opportunities that match your child’s interests and talents, as this can be a way to earn extra scholarships or grants. 

In addition to scholarships from a potential school, look for third-party scholarships that provide extra cash for college students. Bold and Wisegeek, for example, list plenty of private scholarships that are easy to qualify for and apply for. 

Maximize your financial aid eligibility.

You knew to apply for grants and other financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), but there are likely tactics to increase your eligibility that you weren’t aware of. For instance, student aid is determined, in part, by your Expected Family Contribution. By reducing this number, you may qualify for additional aid. 

Keep in mind, a student’s finances have more bearing than the parents’ on the level of need assessed by FAFSA. So save as much money and assets under the parents’ names as possible — as opposed to the child’s name. 

Appeal your award

Many people forget that you can approach a school’s financial aid office to appeal your award package. By the time a semester is starting, the tax info they used to make their decisions is two years old, potentially affecting opportunities to make money as a college student. There have likely been some changes to your financial situation in that time, and they need to know about these in order to offer you the best support possible. 

If you’re deciding between a handful of competing schools, you can also use that as leverage. Have your child explain that they’d like to attend this school but have a better financial aid offer from another one, hinting at their need for more money for college. Competition is a great motivation for them to do whatever it takes to get your child to attend their college or university of choice. 

Sacrifice some pricey extras.

There are a variety of ways to cut back on expenses to save more toward your child’s education. You could hold off on getting them a car and teach them how to use public transportation instead. Try taking virtual college tours instead of flying across the country to visit schools, as it’s a great way to make the search more affordable. Limit eating out, and choose modestly-priced extracurricular activities. 

Send your child to an affordable school.

Colleges vary widely in price, so be thorough as you compare your options. You could send your child to a less expensive 2-year community college first, which is a great way to make the transition to a 4-year university they’ve had their eye on more financially manageable. Or look into the part-time job opportunities available on the college campus. The Freshman Year for Free program allows students to essentially take a course for free and then take an exam to get transferable college credits for that class, saving substantial money for college. 

Your final school choice is important, too. 

State schools are generally more affordable than private or Ivy League schools, making them a practical choice for students trying to make money in college last. 

But sometimes, a highly selective school might be willing to offer more financial aid (especially for a college student with impressive grades or talent), providing another way to pay for education without incurring debt. 

Calculate the net price (or typical out-of-pocket costs) of the schools on your list to accurately compare them to one another, including extra expenses like books and living on college campuses. 

Share the responsibility

Paying your child’s tuition is one way to ensure they’ll finish college without the burden of a student loan. However, if they’re not pulling any of the financial weight, they may not be as invested in their education. Sometimes, having to work to pay their own way is an incredible incentive to make the most of their academic experience. 

Weigh the pros and cons of paying your child’s tuition versus allowing them to work their way through school and maybe find a part-time job or an online survey to make extra money. Perhaps you can make an arrangement to support them financially only as long they keep their grades up. Or you can reach a compromise about who should pay for what and under what circumstances, finding a way to pay that suits both parties. 

Paying for college can feel like a big burden, but finding a way to make money as a college student can ease some of the financial pressure. Ease the stress of this expense by making a thorough plan as early as you can. 

Use these 7 strategies to support your child’s educational journey in the way that’s best for them. And, if you’d like some personalized financial planning advice, check out our 100% free college planning session.

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