The 2010 California College Guide (released from the publishers of Los Angeles Magazine) highlights 62 California colleges and offers great insight for prospective students. Their article “Paying for College 101” caught our eye, so we’re sharing the best tips with you.
There are many options for paying for college aside from grants and loans; it’s all a matter of planning ahead and taking advantage of the systems in place.
Tax credits are one area many parents and students overlook when paying for college. Most tax credits have higher income cutoffs than other forms of financial aid, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t qualify for certain loans or grants. California currently offers three tax break programs for students. The Lifetime Learning credit covers 20% of family tuition costs up to $10,000. Recently the IRS added the American Opportunity tax credit, offering up to $2500 per student. The third credit is a more restrictive version of the American Opportunity credit, called the Hope credit, and awards up to $3600 per student.
Scholarships are possibly the most underutilized suggestion for paying for college. Community organizations often offer scholarships to graduating seniors, utilize your career center or college counselor to tap into these under applied for awards. Your application essay can often be used for multiple awards so stretch the limit. Apply even if you don’t completely fit the applicant description. There are tons of stories about males getting awards where preference goes to women or a slightly lower GPA making the cut. Certain awards receive very few applications so taking a chance could pay off big.
On-campus jobs, found on your own or through the Federal Work Study program, are one of the easiest ways to offset college costs. At SDSU, students are employed in every sector of college business. Dining Services is the largest employer of college students in San Diego and many students land assistant positions in various departments or campus service areas. Associated Students also employs students each semester in various types of positions. Working on campus not only gives you money for school, but offers flexible schedules and a convenient commute to fit into your schedule.