When it comes to paying for your education, you have several options available. Let's look into each option:
Cash payments and tuition payment plans can greatly reduce the cost of your education by reducing interest and fees. So this should always be your first source. Whether your monthly contribution is large or small, every dime you pay now can be a dollar you do not have to pay later.
Many employers provide education benefits through tuition assistance or tuition reimbursement. Speak to your employer (and all prospective employers) about any benefits you may be eligible for.
In recent years, educational benefits for veterans and active duty personnel have been expanded. These benefits come with an expiration date, so know your entitlements and use them wisely. In many cases, you may be able to get your degree with no cost to you. Military specialists are available to guide you here at the University.
State Grants and Funding are a great source. Most states maintain extensive programs of grants, scholarships, tuition assistance and fee reductions. Be on the lookout for these. There is a lot of action on the state level to help you succeed, you just have to ask the question and do the research.
There are many college scholarships and grants that are offered by national private or non-profit organizations. In order to qualify for one of these private grants or scholarships, there are often requirements, such as an essay or other documentation. Taking the time to research and apply for these monies can pay big dividends.
Federal Education Assistance is available to students that qualify. This benefit includes Pell Grants, which is money that you do not pay back and Stafford (or Direct) Loans which do have to be paid back, with interest. This should be your last source of funding as the majority of these funds are loans.
Stay tuned for Part 3: What are Direct Loans?