The FAFSA is not the only source of financial aid for college.
While attaining a college or post-graduate degree can increase your chances of getting a better job and help you secure a more lucrative income, the pursuit of higher education does not come cheap. According to the data collected by the College Board, the average cost of in-state public tuition and fees for 2014-2015 was pegged at $22,410 while the annual cost of private school can be a little more than $46,000.
Taking these figures into consideration, it is so easy to see why the average student loan debt now hovers around the $30,000 mark and why the national student loan debt has now reached $1.32 trillion.
Why Should You Consider the FAFSA?
To help pay for college, most families apply for financial aid by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), a government form that streamlines the college financial aid process. The FAFSA helps determine students’ eligibility for loans, grants and work-study programs. Most colleges also require it to be on file for you to qualify for need-based or merit-based aid. As such, every student aspiring to pursue his or her college education should take the time to fill out the FAFSA, no matter what their life circumstances may be.
However, students who are looking to secure additional funds to help pay for their college education should look beyond the FAFSA. They should explore all the other possible sources of financial aid that can help them attain their degree without incurring a huge amount of student loan debt.
Some Smart FAFSA Alternatives to Consider
Here are some financial aid alternatives that can help you pay for college while incurring the least student loan debt possible.
Local and University Scholarships
Instead of competing against hundreds or thousands of students for national scholarships, look for college scholarships offered in your hometown. Check for scholarship awards offered by your city government, organized groups, and/or niche societies. You should also check out the financial aid programs offered by your college or university.
Even if you were not awarded a traditional work-study package, you can still explore the different employment options available in your campus. By working part-time as an on-campus resident assistant, campus tour guide or tutor, you can reduce your education costs and earn a little extra to help pay for other essential living expenses.
Use the power of the internet to help pay for your educational costs. Use crowdsourcing sites such as Indiegogo, GoFundMe and Scholar Match to connect with people who are willing to donate for your cause.
There are a lot of smart and creative alternatives to the FAFSA so take some time to do your research.