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Funding College in a Downturn

By KSU Counseling Services Staff

Funding college is no small feat. Going to college is expensive. The tuition is high (and getting more expensive every year). This is true even at public universities with publicly subsidized tuition. There are not sufficient funds for all the deserving and talented students in terms of scholarships, grants and loans.

Ideally, students and their families would have saved up to pay for their many college-related costs. Some sites with tips on saving for college include SavingforCollege.com and FinAid.Org. Ideally, students would also have scholarships and tuition waivers available.

However, in general, students likely may be facing college without a large stash. What are some ways to address this situation?


One beginning step to identifying funding for college is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. This gives potential funders an overview of your financial situation and possible needs. Because there are many differing deadlines for different colleges, different states, and the federal grant systems, it helps to get FAFSA in as soon as possible.

Scholarship Pursuit

Various websites offer information on student scholarships. Make sure that you're working with official sites though, and do not share personal financial information carelessly. Privately funded foundations may offer scholarships in particular academic fields as well.

A site that have been suggested in the popular media includes Fastweb's Scholarship Search Wizard.

Scholarships and grants often do not have to be paid back, but loans do.

Claim Tax Breaks

There are tax benefits for students. These include the Hope Scholarship tax credit, Lifetime Learning tax credit, and deductions for tuition and fees.

Work Part-Time

Campus towns often have plenty of part-time work, even though these may be low-paid jobs.

Federal Work Study

There are on-campus jobs that may be convenient for learners. Federal work study funds support some of these jobs.

The more credits you can bring with you, the less money you'll pay to a four-year university.

Spend Frugally

Live at home if at all possible. Find housing that is low-cost and safe, if living at home is not possible.

Buy textbooks used, on sale and online, whenever possible.

Live on a frugal budget while maintaining the fundamentals for safety, health, nutrition, and quality learning.


Students all have their own unique situations. You will need to explore your options in depth and make your own financial decisions carefully.

© All staff articles are used by permission of the respective author(s). Copyright belongs to the University Life Café. No part of this may be used without authorization.

Funding College in a Downturn (pdf)