If the thought of coming out of college with $30,000 or more in student loan debt doesn’t sound appealing to you, I have good news; there are actually some things you can do right now to lower your estimated expenses. I know some of you are thinking that the only way you’re going to find free money for college is by participating in some hair-brained scheme or being named a beneficiary of a long-lost rich uncle, but I promise, these methods are a lot less risky and won’t require anyone dying (you’re safe Uncle Mike!). In fact, some of them are fairly easy and can be done at home in your pajamas. If you want to keep your student loan debt to a minimum, check out these four unusual ways to find free money for college.
1. Start a Business
Ok, I can hear it already, “I’m looking for money, not made of money!” Guess what? Not every business venture requires a lot of capital. There are ways for you to monetize your skills and talents with little to no effort or upfront cash. Do you have a vehicle? You could offer delivery services to other students on or off campus. If you don’t mind doing laundry or cleaning, hire yourself out to your fellow students and clean their dorm rooms or apartments. You could even offer your skills for typing or editing assignments. If you have a real talent, like making jewelry, you could sell your items at a local farmer’s market or post them on Craigslist. The possibilities are virtually endless.
Believe it or not, there are actually complete strangers who are willing to help pay for your education. You may have heard about crowdfunding in terms of generating money for new businesses or charitable organizations, but many students have turned to this platform to help cover tuition and other college costs. There are several good tools available, such as newcomer Nakoo, which is specifically for college students. Just be sure to do your research and pick a website that doesn’t require a hefty processing fee. To increase your chances of meeting your goal amount, consider checking out ScholarshipExperts.com’s 5 Steps to a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign.
Are you a gifted writer? Do you dabble in poetry? There are a ton of creative writing contests that can help you reduce your college expenses. One of my favorite websites is Poets & Writers. It lists all available contests, including prize amount, deadline, genre, and application fee, if any. There are literally hundreds of contests open right now! If art is more your style, consider checking out Incredible Art Department. It not only lists current contests by grade levels, but also links to other resources for finding current competitions. Just take whatever talent you possess and Google [insert] contests to find what’s available in your area or online.
I bet you’re thinking, “Scholarships? What’s so creative about that?” But, things have changed quite a bit over the last few years. Previously, if you wanted to find free money for college, you stopped by your guidance counselor or browsed through huge scholarship books in the library to find available awards. Thankfully, free scholarship search tools hit the market about a decade ago, making it a bit easier for students to find money for college, but things are really starting to get interesting now. If you’re like most students, you live on social media. That’s a good thing because scholarships are there, too! Awards are continually popping up on Twitter (check out @ScholarshipGuru), Facebook, Tumblr, and even Pinterest .There’s also a huge listing of scholarships available on Reddit. Simply search for ‘scholarship’ or ‘scholarships’ on any of the social media channels and start applying!
If you don’t want to spend the next 10 to 20 years paying off your college education, put in a little sweat equity right now and try one of these alternative ways to earn money for school. Who knows? You might even have some fun, too!