Options to Borrowing

Student with microscope

Borrowing money is not the only way to pay for college. Instead of taking on more debt, try taking advantage of some alternative resources. If you use these options instead of taking out loans, your future self is going to be so happy with you... not to mention quite a bit richer!

Instead of taking out a loan, you have options: you can reduce your expenses so that you can afford college without going into debt, and you can find help from alternative sources to finance your education. Explore both of these before thinking about taking out loans and you could graduate with significantly less debt!

Lower your costs

Check out ways to cut your costs

  • Live like a student: spend less money on expenses and put the difference toward your tuition. See the Student's Guide to Money for how to spend less and save more.
  • Adjust your class schedule: don’t pay for classes that don’t go toward your degree.
  • Adjust your class schedule: to the classes you can afford to pay for on your own.
  • Spread out your bill: sign up for a payment plan. Payment plans spread your bill into affordable payments, which might enable you to borrow less - maybe even not borrow anything!

Find other sources of funding your education

Check out other sources of money

  • Win a scholarship: there are scholarships available for just about anything and everything. Many are small amounts, but a lot of small scholarships can add up to a lot of tuition payments.
  • Apply early for more grants: unlike loans, you don't have to pay grants back. But some grants run out early, so apply for financial aid as soon after January 1 as you can.
  • Apply early and get work study: work study is financial aid that you earn through a part-time job. But work study funds are limited, so you have to apply for financial aid early.
  • Work while attending school: if you work while in school, you can pay more as you go which adds up and reduces the total amount you have to borrow.
  • See if your employer will foot the bill: you may work at a company that will pay for you to attend college. Some companies will pay for the classes upfront, others will reimburse the cost after you have successfully completed each semester - see third party billing for details.
  • Investigate other sources: there are other sources of funding you might qualify for, such as Veterans Benefits, AmeriCorps Vouchers, and other tuition reimbursement programs. Look around to see if there are any you're missing out on.
  • Set up a matched savings account: If you are saving for college, you should look into setting up an Education Individual Development Account. These accounts will match your savings by contributing $3 for every $1 you put into savings! In case you can't tell, that's an amazing deal. IDAs are offered by community-based organizations. To get started, take the IDA Eligibility Quiz, then contact one of the organizations listed to find out how to apply.