Getting your kid into college is going to be tight, but it's been your goal for years and it will be worth it. You've reached out for all the financial aid and scholarships you can. Your bank account is skinny. You still need a little extra for tuition, room and board, books and other costs. What's to be done?
Fortunately there are a few sources of funding you may not have completely wrung out.
Late Deadline Scholarships
While many scholarships have deadlines early in the year, you can find some with deadlines in July, August and later. There are many scholarships that can be applied to at any time of the year. And students can continue to apply up to their junior year in college!
There actually may be a slight advantage to procrastination in this area. Early deadline scholarships are very competitive, but later in the year there are fewer applicants. Sometimes they're major-specific and more fun, too. Consider a contest from the California Rare Fruit Growers which requires a photo of fruit or flowers. After a winter and spring of essays about why you want to go to college, this will be refreshing.
Every student should also register for sites like Scholarship Owl, that can help you apply to hundreds of scholarships at once.
Don't Give Up on FAFSA
While it's always best to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid as early as possible, it's never too late. At the very least you can qualify for a low-cost loan of $5,500.
If you've already applied and received an answer, you can appeal it if you think you deserve more. Ask for a “Professional Judgement Review.” You may be able to negotiate for additional aid.
Ask For Help
Your college wants your business. If a few thousand bucks will keep you from being able to attend, your school might do everything possible to bridge the gap. But they won't if you don't ask. Be transparent with your financial aid office and allow them to offer solutions.
Don't be too proud to reach out to your family and community. All day long, people ask you for money for worse reasons. Helping your kid become a college graduate is a noble purpose. Ask your parents, employer, church, club or any associations you belong to.
If you get help, remember it. When your student becomes a success, pay it back with gratitude. Perhaps all the donors will ever expect is a status report on your kid's progress.
Look at your current and future costs. There's some fat in there. Trim it. Would you rather spend money on lattes, cable or education? Put all your bills and expenses out on the table to analyze. Separate the essential from the extraneous.
This will be a good exercise for your child, too. As he launches himself into independence, he should know how to operate on a disciplined budget. And it doesn't need to last forever. A few months living slim could yield a couple thousand extra bucks.
Where will your student be living? Did you choose a more expensive single dorm or off-campus housing? Can you save money by getting a roommate or two? Analyze the meal plan. Fourteen a week rather than nineteen will save you some dollars. He might sleep through breakfast anyway.
Get Rid of Stuff
Consider one of the many new online ways to sell extra stuff: craigslist, Let Go and more. Look at that basement full of old toys and unused junk. It's worth money to someone. You could have the equivalent of a year of textbooks getting dusty in your attic.
Get creative a ditch your pride. Stripping yourself of nonessential expenses and gear will be good for the character of you and your student.
Parents are eligible for PLUS loans from the government to help cover education expenses for their children. You must not have adverse credit history. The current interest rate is 6.84%.
Does your student need a private loan to cover college costs? Consider Credible: compare multiple loan offers to get the best deal!