How Do I Pay for College and Living Expenses?

Kathryn Knight Randolph

August 30, 2019

How Do I Pay for College and Living Expenses?
Scholarships, financial aid and college savings plans that will help you pay for college -- and live there too.
When guidance counselors, college brochures and financial aid administrators use the term “college costs,” they’re describing more than just tuition. Student fees, room and board, books and even transportation costs are included in college costs – or the total cost of attendance. While paying for tuition is stressful enough, you may find yourself wondering, “How do I pay for college and living expenses?” Fortunately, there are a multitude of ways to cover these costs; find out more now.

Scholarships to Pay for College and Living Expenses

First, scholarships can cover a variety of college costs, including college and living expenses. However, you must do your due diligence when searching for and applying to scholarships. As you go through the process, check to see what you need to complete the application, how much will be awarded, the final submission deadline and who is providing the scholarship. As you do this, don’t forget to check out the scholarship requirements for winning. These requirements will detail how the scholarship can be used, whether or not it’s good for all of the college years or just one as well as any other scholarship details that may be pertinent after you’ve won. Oftentimes, these get overlooked, and students looking for scholarships to pay for college and living expenses find themselves without the money they thought they’d have for this particular category. If you’re looking for scholarships specifically for college and living expenses, make sure that’s exactly what you’re applying to as you fill out applications. Don’t waste your time on opportunities that wouldn’t provide the outcome you want or need.

How to Find Scholarships to Pay for College and Living Expenses

Fortunately, finding scholarships is simple with Fastweb. You don’t have to spend countless hours trying to find scholarships that you actually qualify for; it only takes a few minutes here. At Fastweb, we ask you about your GPA and test scores, colleges of interest, and activities and extracurriculars. You can tell as much – or as little – about yourself as you like in order to create a profile. Once you have created a Fastweb profile, we will find scholarships in our database that match your qualifications. So in just a few minutes’ time, you can have a list of scholarships for which you actually qualify. From there, it’s up to you whether or not you apply, and we highly recommend that you apply to all of them. Winning scholarships to pay for college and living expenses is definitely a numbers game. The more you apply to, the greater your chances of winning. With that, you should make applying for scholarships a part-time job. Commit to applying to a certain number every week, and diversify the types of scholarships to which you apply. Don’t just go for the easy applications. Tackle some of those harder, more complicated scholarship applications. Because of the extra work involved, they typically have a lower applicant pool number, which makes your chances of winning even better.

Financial Aid to Pay for College and Living Expenses

In addition to scholarships, students can find financial aid to pay for college and living expenses. To qualify for financial aid, though, students and their families must complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The FAFSA is an application that determines how much a family can afford to pay for college given their financial circumstances; this is known as an EFC (Expected Family Contribution). Students share their EFC with each college they’re interested in attending, and the schools draw up a financial aid package. A financial aid package my have grants, work study opportunities or student loans. With this information, students are better able to see how they will pay for college and living expenses as well as tuition. A financial aid package may have more restrictions on what it can cover than a scholarship. In this case, students and their parents should contact the financial aid offices at the colleges they’re interested in to see what is covered under their scholarships and financial aid. With that information, students will be better prepared and more equipped to pay for college.

College Savings to Pay for College and Living Expenses

If you have saved for your college education, that’s great! That money can also be used for college and living expenses – even money that you may have in a 529 college savings plan. These college savings plans not only cover room and board, but they can be used for off-campus housing as well. It’s never too late – or too early to save for college. A 529 college savings plan can be opened before a child is even born. Parents can just put the account in their name, and that’s where it should stay throughout college. Students can actually be penalized from a financial standpoint if they have too much money in their own name. But if you haven’t been saving your entire life – or throughout the life of your child – that’s ok too. Students and parents that get a late start on saving can still allocate a chunk of savings to college and living expenses, like rent payment, special foods or gas money to and from school.

Final Things to Consider to Pay for College and Living Expenses

As you anticipate the cost of college, don’t forget to consider how to pay for college and living expenses outside of the basic tuition and fees. There is a lot more that goes into paying for college than just covering the classes. After all, college is an experience, and that experience extends just as much outside of the classroom as it does inside it. With that, search for scholarships that will pay for college and living expenses. Seek out financial aid opportunities by filling out the FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1. Start saving for college today and utilize that savings to cover some of the costs associated with getting a college degree. It is one of the best investments you can ever make in yourself. Just make sure you’re prepared and that you have the financial resources and plan to pay for college and living expenses.

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