Scholarships and grants
Scholarships and grants don’t need to be repaid, making them the best ways to pay for college. You can apply for grants once you’ve completed the FAFSA, but scholarships require some independent research.
Some scholarships require more effort than others. However, many of them ask similar types of questions. You should save answers to review and modify slightly for different applications.
Most scholarship applications will ask a few questions about you and will probably want you to write a short essay or two. Less than an hour of work could get you $1,000! Regardless of what career you pursue, this is probably the only time in your life that you’ll manage to make $1,000 per hour.
Scholarships and grants may be based on your financial need, group affiliations, ACT® or SAT® scores or your involvement in an extracurricular activity. Look below for some scholarships and grants that are available. If you are a member of the U.S. Armed Forces or have a family member in the service, go to StudentAid.gov/military to find out about grants and loan repayment options for military personnel.
Employer tuition assistance
If you plan on working while you are in school, you may be able to receive financial aid from an employer tuition assistance program. These tuition benefits help employees pay for college and are excluded from your annual income, making them tax-free.
Per section 127 of the Internal Revenue Code, your employer may provide you with up to $5,250 in tuition assistance benefits. Benefits include the cost of tuition, books, supplies and other course equipment. Courses don’t have to be part of a degree program, but if they involve sports or hobbies, they are generally not included. The exception would be if these courses are required as part of your degree program or are related to your employer’s business. Travel, housing and meal costs are also not included in tuition benefits.
You may be required to earn a particular grade or complete a degree program before receiving reimbursement. Your employer may also require you to remain employed for a period of time after completing your degree.
If you choose to accept tuition benefits from your employer, keep in mind that you won’t be able to claim the tuition and fees deduction, American Opportunity Credit or Lifetime Learning Credit on your tax return.