The cost of education has soared exponentially over the last four decades. At present, education-related expenses have outstripped not only the cost of living but also medical care costs and average family incomes in many countries. In the United States, student debt currently exceeds USD 1.7 trillion, a sum larger than that of all credit card debt in the country combined. Given these conditions, the question of how to pay for higher education is more urgent than ever.
When it comes to funding your education, there are many avenues and strategies you can explore, but there isn’t always one clear path forward for many people. Most students and their families will tap into multiple sources for the funding they need, including savings, loans, financial aid from the government or educational institutions, and more. Some students even resort to working full- or part-time while studying to cover tuition and other costs.
Whether you’re preparing to apply for your first undergrad degree, pursuing postgraduate education, or looking into a professional certification, it’s necessary to be strategic about financing your academic career. These four tips can help you uncover valuable sources of funding, identify savings opportunities, and keep student debt manageable:
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Partner with a Reliable Bank
Achieving your educational objectives, and indeed any long-term financial goal will be much easier and more doable with support from a dependable partner financial institution. Finding the right bank is especially important if you’re going to be funding your education yourself with limited to no family support.
You’ll want a bank that can keep your personal information and hard-earned money safe, provide you with personalised advice, and offer you all the tools you need to manage your finances properly.
In particular, working with a bank that utilises robust, feature-rich banking software will grant you access to a wide array of digital banking solutions that can help you stay on top of your financial responsibilities. Beyond basic online and mobile banking functions such as digital payments, withdrawals, and deposits, a good bank will also give you the option of applying for loans, opening new accounts, and performing other more complex banking tasks online.
Explore Scholarships and Government Aid
Many universities will offer financial aid to promising students in the form of scholarships. Entrance scholarships, for instance, are commonly offered to high-performing full-time undergraduate students about to start their first year of study. Because universities decide to offer these based on your high school grades, you won’t have to apply for this type of scholarship. There will usually be other scholarships available at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, and these are typically awarded based on your academic achievements or your performance during extracurricular activities.
It’s always helpful to research the offered scholarships at universities you apply to and to note down any that you might be eligible for. You’ll want to do this early so that you’ll have plenty of time to write up a solid application and gather any supporting documents you might need. Identify which scholarships you want to prioritise and keep track of their deadlines to ensure that you don’t miss your chance.
You can also apply for government-provided financial aid, which can come in the form of grants or loans. The main difference between these two types of financial aid is that loans are meant to be paid back, while grants come with no such expectation.
Your grant or loan will likely be calculated according to factors like the cost of your tuition, your family size and income, and your planned living arrangements while studying. Consider taking advantage of any form of government aid you’re eligible for, as it can help immensely with your tuition, living expenses, and any other education-related costs.
Look into Online Education
Modern education, like many other aspects of life in today’s world, is becoming increasingly digital. In recent years, online courses and certifications have become increasingly viable alternatives to traditional undergraduate and postgraduate education.
Not only are these courses often quite affordable, but they’re also frequently flexible in terms of scheduling, which can be especially beneficial for adult learners looking to explore new fields of study. Many online courses will allow you to go through the course content and complete assignments in your own time, at your own pace.
Find Ways to Combine Work and School
If you’d like to gain practical, on-the-job experience in a particular industry, a cooperative education program or co-op may be a good fit for you. Students of co-op programs alternate their time between full-time academic study and full-time work and are financially compensated for the latter. The money you earn from working between academic terms can go a long way toward covering tuition and any other necessary expenses.
Traineeships and apprenticeships are another way to gain skills and knowledge of a particular subject area or industry while earning a wage at the same time. You can think of traineeships and apprenticeships as jobs that also give you the training necessary to earn a formal qualification. There are many companies out there that offer this kind of employment, so you’ll want to look up any organisations you’re interested in and see what work opportunities are available to you.
Though the prospect of funding your education may seem stressful at the outset, it doesn’t have to be. Doing extensive research into the resources and funding opportunities available to you will help you figure out a solid plan for paying your way through school.