How to pay for college

Strategies and Tools

So you’ve finally figured out your dream job and found a college program where you can learn all about it. The hardest part is over!

The only problem? You’re probably wondering exactly what the cost is and how you are going to pay for it. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. These are often the biggest questions people have when planning to enroll in college.

Luckily, there are a lot of options out there that can make a college education possible no matter what your budget. If you plan ahead, reduce your costs, utilize financial aid and scholarships, you’ll be well on your way to earning a degree without incurring a ton of debt! Check out our tips and tricks to funding your education.

Plan Ahead

Start by doing the math. Tuition and fees are often the largest sum when it comes to college costs, but there are other expenses, too. You’ll need to factor in the price of books, transportation, room and board (if not living at home), and childcare if you have a family. This will give you a better idea of how much money you’ll need. Another helpful hint? Every college is required to have a Net Price Calculator on their site. Do a search on any college’s site and you’ll find it. Just fill in your information and it provides you with the cost for that college, allowing you to compare costs between colleges, side-by-side!

Apply for Federal Grants and Loans

One of the best ways to get money for college is to file the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Federal Student Aid provides grants, loans and work study funds each year to millions of students. Loans are borrowed funds you must pay back, including interest and fees. Grants are a type of financial aid you don’t have to pay back. People often think that because federal and state grants are determined by your financial need you won’t qualify, but you might be surprised. That’s why filing the FAFSA is so important. Work Study allows you to earn money to help pay education expenses. These are typically part-time college jobs related to your field of study. Filing the FAFSA is easier than ever thanks to a mobile app and can begin as early as October 1. In order to receive financial aid for the fall semester you’ll need to file by July 15, so you still have plenty of time!

Explore Iowa’s Last Dollar Program

You can earn a Certificate, Diploma, or Associate’s Degree to work in one of Iowa’s high-demand jobs, and your tuition is covered. The state recently introduced a new program that covers the remaining cost of tuition for students enrolled in any one of more than 25 different high-demand career technology programs. All you have to do is fill out the FAFSA. The state then covers the remaining balance beyond the aid for which you are eligible. Even if you receive no federal or state aid, the program will pay your entire tuition. That’s right, regardless of your personal income situation, you will pay no tuition costs.$

Apply for Scholarships

Scholarships are a fantastic resource because they provide money that does not have to be paid back.

There are many different types of scholarships available through the college and through a number of businesses, private and public organizations. There is something for everyone, not just the top of the class. While some scholarships are based on academic excellence, many others are based on factors such as financial need, community involvement, leadership or area of study. We encourage you to apply, there’s a good chance you’re eligible for one or more!

Reduce Costs Where Possible

If it’s a four-year degree you’re after, you can take your general education classes with Eastern Iowa Community Colleges and save thousands on the cost of college. Not only is our tuition one of the most competitive in the state, but living at home will also significantly reduce costs. Our dozens of transfer agreements make it easy to seamlessly transfer to the four-year college of your choice. New this year, we’ve added 15 statewide transfer majors, providing even more pathways for students to reach their goals and save money while doing it.

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