How to Pay for College on Your Own

How to approach the financial aid process.

How to Pay for College on Your Own

How to Pay For College on Your Own


Optimistically and realistically, you can afford college! But you won’t know if you can afford specific schools until after you apply for admissions and student financial aid. So, let’s focus on how to pay for college on your own.


Paying for college on your own doesn’t mean saving up the total cost and paying cash.  There are various ways to finance your college.  Some combination of these methods may be the answer to how to pay for college on your own.


Speak with parents or guardians about your “total family income.” First you must share an estimate to begin efforts that yield “need-based aid.” Also, create a resume reflecting academic status, achievements, co-curriculars, athletics, honors and community service as you begin to seek “merit-based aid,” athletic scholarships, special fellowships or military related support.


Act like student financial aid is a communication, not solely an application process. Be inquisitive and enthusiastic when speaking with admissions, financial aid and guidance professionals. They are called “counselors” because they want to assist and advocate for you. In person, or via e-mail, state your interest in applying to and attending a school and your need for financial assistance. Share your resume, family income estimate and specifically request help with “how to pay for college on your own.”


As you progress step by step, asking questions and receiving answers, learn about policies and programs associated with school specific, state, federal and private scholarships, grants, fellowships and loans. Uncover tuition-free pre-college “early opportunities” programs.   Learn “price and fit” differences between state schools, including community colleges, private schools etc. The goal is to compare actual “post aid package prices,” not the “sticker prices” of schools, and decide where to attend.


Information from admissions, financial aid, as well as guidance counselors, will identify steps to take, inspire you to apply strategically (requesting fee waivers), and empower you to determine where you will someday enroll as a freshmen. You can definitely afford college!  The NextStepU take will in time facilitate giant leaps to success!


Explore how to pay for college on your own in more depth.  Join NextStepU today.


Through books, articles and counseling, Burt Nadler, a career services professional, inspires high school students, college students and others to clarify, articulate and, step by step, to attain career, academic and personal goals.



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