Did you know the average cost for a four year degree in the United States is $104,108! (Education Data Initiative) This statistic is alarming, and deters many prospective students from continuing their education. Luckily, for many people, there are lots of financing options available that can make college a much more feasible possibility.

The first step is to apply for FAFSA, which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. FAFSA provides millions of students with financial aid each year, totaling approximately $120 billion in work-study, grants, and student loans with low interest rates. (College Board)

Once you’ve applied for FAFSA, many schools have an aid program that you can also qualify for based on how much federal aid you were given and other standards. It’s important to work hard in high school for good grades, as this is how you could possibly qualify for more financial assistance from your college. 

Colleges also rely on test scores from exams such as the ACT or SAT to determine how much aid they can give you. While this isn’t the case for some schools moving forward, these are still important exams to work hard on and participate in if the possibility of extra financial aid appeals to you.

Finally, there are literally thousands of private scholarships offered through businesses, private parties, religious organizations, and other groups. Scholarships like these are often rewarded based on your interests, such as scholarships for art, pageantry, engineering, creative writing, and sports. Be sure to look for scholarships provided by your school and community, and use your school counselors as a resource for scholarship advice.

A little preparation while in high school is definitely worth extra financial aid in the future, so keep those grades up! Be sure to apply for FAFSA and any programs your college of choice has to offer, and as many private or foundational scholarships as you can – you never know what you might get. Most importantly, don’t let the cost of higher education deter you from reaching your goals without exploring all your options. Often, financing is much easier than you think!