Southern Mom Loves: 6 Ways to Afford College Tuition Without Student Loans

6 Ways to Afford College Tuition Without Student Loans

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

College tuition gets higher and higher every year, and you may be wondering if your child will be able to go at all. This pressure can be paralyzing and you may think that you're out of choices. If you're not in a place to help with the expense, and the only other option seems to be letting your child bury themselves in a mountain of debt, I have some good news: There are ways to afford college without student loans, especially for low-income families. If you're willing to do the work, I have 6 great tips, and I hope that you can use a few of these with your own student.

6 Ways to Afford College Tuition Without Student Loans

1. Fill Out the FAFSA Form

The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid: is a must for any future college student. You can fill this form out online and choose the schools you want it sent to (have a list of all the schools you're applying to handy.) 

This form can take a while and you will need to provide additional paperwork for income verification. If your family is considered low income, your child may be eligible for a variety grants and scholarships (Including a state lottery scholarship if one is available in your state.)

You want to apply as early as possible, and make sure to pay attention to the federal, state, and college's cut-off dates. Find them on the FAFSA website:

2. Apply to all the right places

Next, apply everywhere your child might want to attend college. 

Keep in mind when your child is applying for colleges that some Ivy-league schools (Princeton, Brown, Cornell, Columbia, Duke, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, MIT, & Dartmouth are a few) have income-based tuition assistance, so if you make under a certain amount yearly, your child can go to an Ivy-league institution for free, and might even get free room & board. If your child has stellar grades and a well-rounded application, don't let low income keep your child from applying at these expensive colleges. 

Once you receive your acceptance letters...

3. Contact the Financial Aid Office

Contact the financial aid offices of the colleges and universities that your child has been accepted to. You'll be able to get all the information you need so that your child can apply for a variety of private-sector scholarships and grants that may not be advertised, or that are funded by that school's Alumni just for students entering that particular school. 

4. Apply for Private-Sector Scholarships and Grants Online

Colleges and universities are a great place to find private-sector scholarships (via the Financial Aid office), but there are even more options available online (FastWeb is a good place to start: There are lots of scholarships set up with quirky qualifiers like being a Nursing student, playing Tennis, or going into Botany.

If your child is an A-student with a well-rounded background, he may be able to find a number of scholarships that he qualifies for. Many of these scholarships require writing an essay, so you want to work with your child to help him create a strong essay that will give him the best chance possible.

5. Look for Community/Work-Based Scholarships

There are also a number of community/workplace scholarships. A great example are the scholarships or tuition reimbursement plans available through Walmart, FedEx, McDonald's, Chick-fil-A, and many other employers. Ask your or your child's employers if they have a program available and how to apply.

6. Clear Out the Attic

Last, but not least, there are ways to make extra money to save for college tuition. Look through the things you're no longer using and post to the Facebook yard sale groups in your area. You can also sell on eBay or letgo. You'd be surprised at what people will buy, and you can sock that money away for college.

You don't have to get a loan to send your child to college and your child doesn't have to get crushed under a mountain of debt either. It may seem impossible, but there are ways to get help with college tuition. The key is to start early before deadlines hit or the designated money runs out. With a little creativity, you can help your child to succeed in getting a higher education without worrying about their financial future.


Do you have a child going to college soon? Did any of these tips help? Do you have any tips to add? I love to read your comments!

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