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2021 NerdWallet Best-of Awards Winner for Best Student Loan Refinancing Overall
how to pay for college tuition

How to Pay for College

More Americans than ever are going to college; in fact, over 33% of adults 25 years and older hold at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to only 4.6% in 1940. Coupled with that, college is more expensive than it’s ever been. An in-state public four-year degree costs about three times as much as it did 20 years ago, when adjusted for inflation.

In this changed landscape, it’s more important than ever for students and families to make careful decisions about how to fund an education.

Before even deciding on a school, it’s critical that you educate yourself on your options and understand the effects of the choices you make now on your debt load after graduation. That’s where Purefy can help.

Learn How to Pay for College

Learn How to Pay for College

When it comes to paying for college, many people just don’t know where to start. That’s why Purefy developed How to Pay for College – The Definitive Guide, an all-encompassing 13-page eBook to help get you started on the path to your college degree.

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How to Pay for College - FAQ

Before you consider taking out student loans for college, you should first pursue grants and scholarships. Both can help you pay for college, and neither require that you pay any money back. Grants are generally awarded based on need, whereas scholarships are often based on merit (think academics or athletic ability). Grants and scholarships can be awarded by the federal government, your state, your school, or even a private organization or individual.

Not everyone has college savings to help fund their education. If you don’t have much savings — whether it be your own savings or your parents — you still have options. Beyond grants and scholarships, you could also consider doing a federal work-study program, or even taking on a part-time job while you study at college. If that’s not enough, you may need to consider applying for student loans.

Whether or not you need federal student loans, you should fill out the FAFSA each year. It’s what the government uses to determine your federal student aid package — including grants and work-study. If you’ve maxed out your federal student loan options, private student loans may be the best choice. To get the best deal, you can compare top lenders in Purefy’s rate comparison tool, and once you select a lender, you will be taken to their website to apply.

A full ride scholarship is one that covers the entire cost of attending college. The reality is, that even if you have a great SAT score and GPA, these types of scholarships are hard to come by. In fact, only 1.5% of bachelors degree students get enough scholarships and grants to cover the full cost of attendance. The number of students who got enough scholarship and grant money to cover 50% of the cost of attendance is still only 19%.

For 2018–2019, the average tuition and fees for in-state students at public four-year schools was $10,230. For out-of-state students, the average was $26,290. If you’re going to a private non-profit four year school, the average jumps up to $35,830. As you can see, school choice makes a big difference in the cost of your education. Choosing a private college over an in-state college could cost you more than three times as much money.

If you’re an out-of-state student hoping to get in-state tuition, the chances are slim, but it’s possible. In general, if you can attend a high-quality in-state school in your home state, that will be your best bet — but it won’t work for everyone. That said, the rules for getting in-state tuition vary by state and school. Some states have agreements with nearby states to allow in-state tuition reciprocity, especially if you live near the state line. Other schools or states may allow you to establish residency and reduce your tuition after your first year (this is tougher for dependent students whose families will stay in their home state). Check the rules and don’t be afraid to ask your potential new school — you may be surprised.

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  • What type of degree are you pursuing?

    Why do we ask? Degree Type

    Some lenders determine your eligibility and interest rate based on the type of degree you are pursuing. Please list the degree you are pursuing, not a degree that you already have.

  • How many years until you get your degree?

    Why do we ask? Years Until Graduation

    The amount of time you will be in school affects your loan balance upon graduation and your monthly payment after graduation, depending on the repayment option you select.