Student Life

How to Afford a Private University

Bailey Vannatta

February 11, 2015

How to Afford a Private University
You can afford to attend the school of your dreams - you just need to do a little extra legwork.
When it comes time to choose a college to attend, many students are completely intimidated by the thought of attending a private university. Private schools have a reputation of being too expensive, as if only those within the upper class are able to attend without going into debt for years. Private schools are expensive, yes, but here is how to debunk the “I can’t afford it” myth.

1. Merit Awards

Unlike most state schools, most private colleges can afford to give out scholarships to almost every student that attends. The most common one being a “merit award.” A merit award is just like it sounds, once you apply and get accepted to a private university, some schools will automatically award you money to attend their school just based on your individual merit. Some schools even offer “full ride” merit awards, paying for your education entirely. No essay is usually necessary - these scholarships are likely based on your grades, activities and SAT/ACT scores.

2. School-Specific Scholarships

Many private colleges have scholarships specifically for students attending their school. A lot of these are awarded from alumni of the university, but there are other scholarships as well.
Before you rule out attending a private university, visit the school’s website and look at their scholarship page. You might just be surprised to see how much financial aid you have the opportunity of earning.

3. Other Scholarships

Here at our very own Fastweb, there are millions of scholarships available. Some may not want to apply for a scholarship because it’s only $500 or $1,000, but imagine if you got five or ten of those awards. It all adds up and you don’t have to pay any of it back. Plus, smaller awards often have a lot less competition, so your chances of winning are usually a lot higher. So, when it comes to scholarships, remember this rule: several smaller awards pay big dividends when added together and your odds of winning are better. What’s not to love about that?

4. Federal Funding, Financial Aid & Student Loans

No one wants to be in debt and private student loans aren’t ideal, but sometimes they are the way to go if you really want to attend that expensive school you’ve been dreaming of. To qualify for government loans, you’ll have to fill out your FAFSA (A Free Application for Federal Student Aid). To qualify for federal student aid, you’ll have to fill out your FAFSA (A Free Application for Federal Student Aid). It’s ideal to qualify for federal aid you won’t have to pay back, but it’s need-based, so not every student qualifies. This will also tell you if you qualify for any educational grants. Grants are different from student loans because they're money from the government but, like a scholarship, you don't have to pay them back, which is the best-case scenario. Government loans, however, do need to be repaid. Federal loans, however, usually have lower interest rates than private loans, so it’s usually better to go with a federal loan if able. Learn more about making smarter student loan decisions. Thinking of how you're going to pay for a private university may be intimidating at first, but it becomes much more reasonable once you consider all the ways you can pay for your education. Don't think that because you can’t afford to pay for it out of pocket, that you can’t attend. Remember, there are systems in place to make your dream a reality. And, that college you want to attend? The opportunities are endless. Public or private, choose the school you really love, because you can.

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