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By Sam Fiske
College is becoming more expensive. Tuition costs are rising, room and board is constant, and additional costs outside of tuition are becoming a requirement. The question of how to pay for college has become increasingly important. While full-ride scholarships are not easy to attain, there are a number of ways to chip away at the cost of undergraduate study.
Becoming an RA, a resident assistant, is a great opportunity to help pay for college. Most RA positions will not only pay you, but cover your room and board costs, or at least reduce it by half. The work of an RA is simple, you supervise the dormitory halls you are assigned, watch for disturbances, and be of assistance to anyone that may need your help. The job can be unpredictable at times, but I know several RAs who have found their work rewarding and enjoyable. Positions are usually assigned by semester, and if you have the time, it is worth submitting an application.
Scholarship opportunities come in many forms and amounts, more than I realized myself while attending university. Start by researching potential scholarships on the Internet using proven websites such as Scholarships.com and Fast Web. Most scholarships will only cover a part of your overall tuition, but can go a long way in reducing the costs.
The same can be said for federal grants such as the Pell Grant. For this year, the Pell Grant covers a maximum of $5,500, depending on your qualifications. However, like scholarships, grants do not have to be repaid and are designed to be financial aid towards your college tuition.
Loans are much more complicated, but as long as you are smart about them, they can be effective. Student loans can come from both the private and federal sectors, and be valuable in putting you through college. You can read more about loans on the Federal Student Aid website here.
Some of us maybe or have been lucky enough to avoid the plight of student loans, which are given a bad rap because of the impending costs upon graduation. While I would suggest avoiding student loans if possible, combining the resources of on-campus jobs like an RA, finding scholarships and grant opportunities can make this deficit more manageable in the long-term. By doing this research, you can make the college sticker price that much more affordable.