Creative Financing Tactics to Pay for College

Creative Financing Tactics to Pay for College

Everyone has heard of scholarships, but few know about all the other ways to get money for college. In addition to traditional student loans from both federal and private sources, there are numerous techniques for taking the sting out of the high cost of education. Work-study programs have been around for decades, as have low-cost community colleges. The good news is that nearly all of today's schools offer online courses that cost significantly less than in-person tuition. 

For those who have already graduated, there's a powerful way to reduce the monthly expense of student loan payments. Refinancing is popular among working grads because it has the potential to combine several loans into one. For those still aiming for their first degree, it's becoming common to use several techniques at once, like applying for loans, searching for scholarships, using funds from a family fund, and signing up for work-study. Here are more details about how anyone can leverage creative financing to cover the expenses associated with attending college.

Refinancing School Debt After Graduation

For working adults who want to refinance student loan obligations, whether they have one or many to repay, the option is a great way to reduce monthly expenses, get a fresh loan agreement, and have access to lower rates, better terms, and more time to pay. Refinancing a year or more after graduation is the single most effective way of handling education debt. This tactic is ideal for those who used scholarships to offset a portion of their school costs but took out traditional college loans to finance the remaining expenses. In fact, most scholarship recipients employ this combined approach to cover tuition, fees, and other school costs. Anything that can lower the amount of borrowing is a step in the right direction.


Scholarships, or free money for school, are the perfect way to pay for an education. In the past, it was difficult to even find out about scholarship opportunities, much less apply for one successfully. Now, the entire situation is different and better. Prospective students can use reputable online platforms to apply for multiple opportunities at once. The best part is that the websites let users scan what's available to see which offers they qualify for.

Work-Study Programs

Work-study opportunities are not as common as they once were, but many larger universities and colleges still have on-campus jobs for students who want to earn while they learn, as many school brochures point out. For most, work-study is a decent option if they need it. However, a few institutions have done away with work-study because they felt the part-time jobs were interfering with students' ability to focus on their coursework. Work-study is a smart way to go for those who don't work more than about 10 hours per week.

Combination Strategies

The most common way to pay for education in the modern era is with the combination approach. The method can include loans, scholarships, work-study, and family college-fund money in a sort of financial bundle to handle the total price of a four-year degree. The typical high-schooler who applies for admission to several colleges begins by applying for scholarship opportunities, then applying for loans and possibly work-study to make up the rest of the total tab for a degree. Keep in mind that if your family has a college fund, most lenders will force you to use that money before calculating how large of a loan you're eligible for.

Low-Cost Online Community College

An increasingly popular way to earn a degree is to begin at a community college, taking online courses. This is the single most creative way to get two full years of education for a very low price. At the end of the two years, pupils are free to apply for admission to a four-year institution of their choice. The money saved on those initial four semesters can go toward tuition for the final two years of the degree program. In most cities, community-based educational institutions usually have an agreement with the state university system that allows community college grads to automatically transfer to the four-year or university program without a hitch. Some states offer discounts on tuition for people who completed their first two years at a community college.