7 ways to pay for College without taking out Federal student loans


There are plenty of reasons why you would want to avoid taking out Federal student loans. Here are 7 alternative ways to pay for college.

The idea that will have to spend decades paying for their college education is a concept many students can’t wrap their mind around.

More and more students are refusing to take out student loans if they can help it.

However, is this easier said than done? In this article, we’ll show you seven ways to pay for college that don’t require taking out loans.

  1. Do Your Research on Schools

A lot of students want to attend colleges based on their rankings. However, unless they have all the money to pay for tuition, student loans will be inevitable.

The best way to avoid taking out loans is to research the type of school before applying. For example, state schools cost the fraction of the price of private schools.

In some cases, you can attend four years of state school with the money it would have cost you to attend a private university.

It’s also a great idea to research a few options based on your degree, so you know which are more affordable.

  1. Opt for a Community College

Attending a community college for the first two years is an excellent idea to avoid taking out loans.

At a community college, you will pay a fraction of the price of a university for your general education credits. After all, no one wants to overpay for classes that are not related to their major and will never use again.

Students might shy away from community colleges because they don’t get to have the real “college experience.” However, when they graduate debt-free, they’ll be glad they did.

Most students are also worried about having a community college on their resumes. The truth is most employers only care about whether or not they have a degree.

  1. Apply for Grants

There are grants available for those students who show financial need. A simple visit to the student aid office at each school can help determine what types of grants the student is eligible for.

Federal Aid

To qualify for federal aid, students must fill out a free FAFSA application. If they qualify for aid, the student aid office will put together an estimate of how much help you can get.

It’s important to note, FAFSA will also include loans in the estimate. You must decline if you don’t want to take loans out.

State Aid

Most students are not aware there is also state tuition aid. This depends on the state where they reside, of course.

They’re looking to sponsor students who demonstrate financial need but it doesn’t hurt to show good grades.

State aid tends to run out once the cap is met, so students should apply as early as possible.

  1. Look for Scholarships

All over the country, there are organizations and people willing to give out money in scholarships. Finding scholarships is a great way to avoid taking out loans.


There might be some scholarship money for you in your community. If you’re still in high school, talk to your guidance counselor and ask them about any local organizations giving out scholarships.

You can also ask around your community for any opportunities.


The best way to find national scholarships is to go on the internet. Places like College Board offer excellent scholarship opportunities for students all over the country.


There might be some scholarship money for students who have a military affiliation. If any of their parents served or if they plan to serve, there are a few benefits for active duty members.

School Scholarships

Most schools also have their own scholarship programs for incoming members or active students.

Before you’re accepted to the school, you should research their scholarships available and see if you qualify.

  1. Work During School

Some students might have their tuition paid for, but they still have to take out small personal loans to pay for their expenses. A smart way to help them pay for rent, books, and other expenses is to work their way through college.

Work Off-Campus

Most students get a job off campus working at a local mall, waiting tables, or even babysitting. Believe it or not, a part-time job can go a long way. The cash they earn can go into their everyday living expenses.

Apply for Work-Study Programs

Some students are eligible to participate in work-study programs. These are most helpful because they’re usually on campus.

This allows students to work on campus and be able to get to class without having a long commute.

Independent Work

Students can also take advantage of today’s side hustle society to earn money for college. Those students who have special skills can use them to make a little more side cash for school.

For example, they can tutor high school students, teach music lessons, or turn any other hobby into cash source.

  1. Don’t Underestimate Budgeting

It’s easy to blow off unnecessary money when you’re in college by eating out or going out with friends.

Important budgeting skills start early on. Making a budget and sticking to it helps students avoid taking out loans to pay for expenses.

They should start by packing their own lunch and avoid buying food every day. Going out to bars every weekend is an expense that can add up fast.

And by staying in more, it will also give students more time to focus on school work.

  1. Stay off Campus

Room and board are one of the top reasons students take out loans. However, this expense is optional and can be avoided.

Students who can opt out for living at home with their parents. This will save them the most money and cut their living expenses to a minimum.

If living at home is not an option, they should try off-campus housing. Living with roommates is usually more affordable.

Ways to Pay for College: The Bottom Line

It’s not impossible to find ways to pay for college without taking out student loans.

The most important thing is to do your research and find every possible available option.

If you enjoyed these tips, we have more where these came from. Check out the rest of our blog for tips on classes and things that matter to students.