How to Pay for CollegeWritten by Seth Howell
Does the cost of college feel overwhelming? National research shows that about 60% of 2019 bachelor’s degree graduates left college with debt, on average almost $29,000. Sattler College lists cost among its three core values, stating, “We are committed to making education affordable and accessible.” With the financial aid that Sattler offers, along with wise personal financing and best financial practices, you can complete your bachelor’s degree without accruing a large debt. Following are some tips to help you succeed.
Financial Aid, Personal Financing, and Best Financial Practices for College Students
As you strategize how to pay for school, the first place you should look is financial aid. The typical student can expect Sattler’s yearly $56,120 total estimated cost to drop to $12,925 via financial aid alone. Sattler considers both a student’s merit and financial need, providing aid through scholarships, grants, assistantships, loans, and work study employment. I want to briefly address three of these.
- Scholarships. Scholarships fit within the merit category. This type of aid is classically associated with high academic performance. If you are studious in high school and achieve good grades and high SAT/ACT scores, you can be awarded the Michael Sattler and Conrad Grebel scholarships. In addition, because of Sattler’s kingdom focus, students can be awarded scholarships for things like organizational mission (Adoniram Judson), bold evangelism (George Blaurock), and enduring adversity (Perpetua).
- Grants. Grants fit within the need category. If you can demonstrate financial need—such as having low income and minimal college savings or not having family to chip in—Sattler is ready to help. Grants include room and board subsidization and contributions toward tuition. Therefore, don’t let low finances stop you from pursuing college.
- Work study employment. Through work study, Sattler provides students with meaningful work experiences paired with generous wages. As a student, work study has contributed greatly towards my finances. Through work study, I’ve been able to teach ESL classes, tutor, and work for the admissions office, funneling most of that income into tuition.
In sum, be sure to apply for scholarships and financial aid before deciding that college is too expensive! You will be surprised how affordable college becomes.
Your personal initiatives should cover the remaining $12,925 of yearly expenses. This can include finding employment or seeking out internships.
- Part-time jobs. For me, personal initiative means scheduling my winter and summer breaks to make a healthy income. Between house painting, odd jobs for neighbors, online teaching, and farm work, I have been able to pay off large amounts of my tuition. I suggest you search for work opportunities well in advance. Try to find jobs that pay well, such as hands-on work (e.g. construction), nannying, tutoring, teaching music, etc. Visit sites like glassdoor or ask friends and family, and you will find some great opportunities.
- Internships. Internships let you put your college learning to practice and look great on your resume. Some of my friends in the pre-med track have pursued biological research internships. My business major friends gained valuable experience by working in marketing or at an investment firm over their breaks. Recommendations from your professors can help you secure college-related jobs and internships.
Best Financial Practices for Students
I want to leave you with some principles that will help make paying for college a more enjoyable experience.
- Remember that time is money. Avoid being frugal with your money if doing so will cost you time. For example, if a $50 monitor would boost your homework efficiency, then buy it. The two hours that you could save by utilizing two screens on a weekly basis could be invested into work study and earn you back $100 after a month. Anything that will increase your productivity, even if it’s expensive, will be cheaper for you in the long run because of the time it saves.
- Use technology to your advantage. Tools like credit cards and online subscriptions can be great ways to save money, as long as you use them intentionally. In the past year, since activating a credit card, I’ve made an extra $300 and built a great credit score by using my card to pay for housing. Cell phone apps can be helpful as well. If you are an avid Starbucks coffee drinker, for example, download their app to save money and earn rewards. Or if you want to plan weekend activities, use a site like Groupon to get discounts. Some Sattler students gain extra cash by making wise investments with apps like Robinhood.
- Keep a budget. In high school I took a fantastic course called Financial Peace University. Dave Ramsey provides great budgeting and savings principles that will empower you to strategize getting through college debt-free. I highly recommend the course! One especially important strategy is to create a zero-based budget, a way of budgeting that ensures your income minus expenses (including spending, saving, giving, and investment) equals zero. To create a zero-based budget, you will need to record your monthly income and all of your monthly and seasonal expenses, planning carefully where every dollar will go. Be sure not to spend more than you’ve budgeted in categories such as eating out.
- Prioritize learning. Try not to spend too much time working, even if you can’t pay all your tuition by graduation. You are likely going to be paid far more after you graduate, so it’s better to invest wholeheartedly in your studies so you have the skills to work in the field you love. I made the mistake of working 20-25 hours a week my freshman year and my academic performance suffered because of it. Treat your classes like they are actually worth the $1,028 per credit hour that you are paying.
- Think long term. A huge part of higher education is getting equipped for a career. You should therefore take every opportunity available to acquire the skills and networking needed for that career. If a certain internship or opportunity within your major doesn’t pay as well as some other work opportunity, go for it anyway. The experience you gain and the people you meet will be much more valuable than short-term cash in the long run.