What Are Student Loan Alternatives

When scholarships and grants for college don’t work out, student loans are not your only option. There are many loan alternatives that can help fund your college education, or help cut the costs of college.

Community College For 2 Years

Most community colleges are about a third of the cost compared to a four year college or university. If you check with your local community college most have college transfer programs set up with a number of surrounding area 4-year college and universities. These college transfer programs often allow the college student to complete the first two years at the community college, with guaranteed admission the third year to a 4-year college or university.

College-Level Exam Program (CLEP)

College Level Examination Program (CLEP) gives college students the opportunity to earn college credit, by passing CLEP examinations. For example, if you are required to take a 3 credit American Literature course for your college degree major, you could instead take the CLEP American Literature examination, and if you pass you would receive those 3 course credits and not be required to take the American Literature course at your college or university.

So how does this save you money? Each CLEP examination is only $80! Do the math, compared to an average 3-credit college course you just saved yourself hundreds, maybe even thousands of dollars. With CLEP students can earn between 3 and 12 college credits per CLEP examination, depending on the CLEP examination and your schools CLEP transfer policy. Most colleges and universities will recognize The College Level Examination Program, but before you get started you will want to check with your schools admissions office or your academic advisor. There are many different CLEP examinations available for college credit. You can register to take a CLEP examination by contacting the CLEP testing center closest to you. CLEP exams are also free to military service members.

The Federal Work-Study Program

The FWS Program provides funds that are earned through part-time employment to assist students in financing the costs of post secondary education. Students can receive FWS funds at approximately 3,400 participating post secondary institutions. Institutional financial aid administrators at participating institutions have substantial flexibility in determining the amount of FWS awards to provide to students who are enrolled or accepted for enrollment. Hourly wages must not be less than the federal minimum wage. Financial need is determined by the Department of Education using a standard formula, established by Congress, to evaluate the financial information reported on the FAFSA and to determine the expected family contribution (EFC).

Join AmeriCorps

AmeriCorps is a network of local, state, and national service programs that connects more than 70,000 Americans each year in intensive service to meet our country’s critical needs in education, public safety, health, and the environment. AmeriCorps members serve with more than 2,000 nonprofit’s, public agencies, and faith-based and community organizations. Since 1994, more than 400,000 men and women have provided needed assistance to millions of Americans across the nation through their AmeriCorps service. AmeriCorps rewards both part and full time service members with money towards their college educations.

Tax Incentives and Tax Credits

Tax incentives can be one way to help reduce the costs of your college education. There are different tax credits and deductions that specifically correlate with college education expenses. To learn more about tax credits and deductions related to your college education, see: College Tax Questions: Deductions And Credits.

Military Service

Military service is not for everyone, but those who are interested in serving their country can find many financial benefits for gaining their college education. For example, the U.S. Armed Forces provide service members with multiple programs which provide money for a college education. These programs are often flexible, allowing students to serve either before or after receiving their college education, and depending on the students time commitment to service can receive between $25,000 – $50,000 towards college. Students from countries other than the United States, are encouraged to check out if their military service offers similar college programs.

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