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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Three Ways You Can Pay For College

By Steve Sheehan

If you've been looking at colleges recently, you've probably been shocked at the expense. Just who in the world do these people think they are charging so much? If you want to go to college, though, you're going to have to come up with a way to pay, and this article is here to help.

You have three major options for paying for college. You can save the money, get a scholarship/grant, or borrow the money. Each of these approaches have there pros and cons, so you need to think through each before pulling the trigger.

Let's talk about savings. The key with saving for college is to make sure that you're keeping as much money as possible. For this, you'll want a tax free college account. These are usually known as "529" plans, and offer a tax sheltered method of saving for college. This is the way to go if you can.

If want to get scholarships and grants, you need to get good grades or fall under certain categories (need, race, course of study, etc.). Most of all, though, you need to apply. So many students leave money on the table by failing to apply to the scholarship they are eligible for. Don't make this mistake yourself.

If you can't come up with the money by any other means, you'll need to check into getting student loans. Student loans are typically low interest loans that you will have to repay over a long period of time after you graduate. These come in two flavors, government backed and private. Let's talk about both.

The standard Stafford loan is a typical example of a government backed loan. These loans are easily obtained, but may not have enough money to cover all students. A private loan, on the other hand, is just a normal loan from a financial institution that will come with its own interest rates and terms. These types of loans aren't as nice as the government ones. Therefore, you should use these only if needed.

So, I hope you can see that there are a myriad of options to help you pay for college. Good luck!

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