4 Non traditional Ways to Pay for Higher Education in 2017

Higher education is expensive. Student loan debt, especially in the United States, is causing many young adults to hold off on buying homes and trapping them in debt. Student loan debt has hit $1.4 trillion in the United States – it’s a major problem.

Law school students are even worse off, with a lot of grads under insurmountable debt that can reach as high as $250,000 or more.

The goal for new and current students should be: find ways to pay for college. If you’re a parent or student, you need to know what your options are without going into a lifelong cycle of debt that you can never pay off.

1. 529 Plans

A 529 plan is a way to save for college for your kids., and these plans are tax-advantaged. The goal of these plans is to save money for college tuition, and they’re sponsored on the state and federal level.

All states offer some form of 529 plans, and there are two main plans to pick among:

  1. Pre-paid: A pre-paid plan allows you to purchase credits at a school ahead of time. You may purchase an entire semester now for your kid’s future. There are residency requirements as well as school requirements to be able to choose the pre-paid route.
  2. College Savings Plan: A college savings plan allows parents to save for their child’s education expenses. These plans allow you to invest in your child’s future through different financial tools.

The great thing about 529 plans is that they’re not subject to federal taxes. Most states don’t impose taxes on 529 plans either.

A 529 plan allows you to save money on taxes and save for your child’s education.

2. Non-traditional Scholarship

Local scholarships are always a good start to save money on your education, and any smart advisor will suggest that you apply for any and all scholarships possible. Thousands of dollars are waiting for you to claim if you know where to look.

A smart way to find out which scholarships are available is to:

  • Call your local chamber of commerce
  • Ask about local scholarship opportunities

Your city’s chamber of commerce will tell you all of the local scholarships that are being offered by small businesses in the area. This is your go-to source to connect with locals who are giving money away to help fuel a child’s education.

There are also industry-specific scholarships.

Law firms offer scholarships annually to multiple students in many cases. Tech companies also offer scholarships, such as Google. If you suffer from disabilities or come from extreme poverty, you can often find scholarships that many people don’t know about just waiting for you to claim.

Apply for every scholarship you can – it’s free money for your education.

3. Serve Your Country

The military can help fund your dreams. Enlisted members and officers have the option of receiving $4,500 per year for tuition and fees, and this is just the start of the experience. When you join the military, you’ll also benefit from:

  • Most tuition and fees being covered
  • On-the-job experience
  • Possible college credit transfers
  • Tax-free GI bill

A student who is currently in high school may also consider joining an ROTC program. These programs allow a student to receive a massive scholarship in some cases. Many ROTC members are given the opportunity to claim a four-year, full scholarship where the entirety of their education is paid for.

Military service may provide some on-the-job experience and credits that will transfer to your college.

4. Employment From a Company That Offers Tuition-Assistance

Many younger adults are forced to work during their college years to help pay for some of their tuition. Working is a smart decision, and it helps lower future burdens that can make buying a home or even a car impossible.

This is a strategic method of employment, and the idea is simple:

  • Locate companies offering tuition assistance programs
  • Apply to work at the company
  • Meet the requirements for tuition assistance

Employers may offer to pay for all or part of their employee’s education. The money may be tax-free up to $5,250 in many cases. The credentials, if they coincide with your current position in the company, may also help you rise up the career ladder and continue to work with an employer that has paid for your education.

If you find that higher education costs are too expensive, you’ll want to consider community college. Many community colleges will provide an education up to an Associate’s degree for a fraction of the cost of a private college.

You can then choose to transfer to a school that offers Bachelor degrees and higher after your two-year stint in community college. This is a method of reducing the initial two-year cost of higher education and allows students to take many of their fundamental classes, such as math and English, which are a core requirement for a degree.