By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
If you cannot pay your school bill, don’t despair — and definitely don’t drop out. You have far better options.
Andrew Poole, public and media relations associate with Cayuga Community College, said that students facing financial problems should go to the financial aid office.
“We encourage students to apply for financial aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and in New York state, they would also apply for the tuition assistance program,” Poole said.
Always seek educational loans before personal loans since the interest rate is lower with the former and repayment won’t begin until after graduation. Credit cards represent the worst way to pay a school bill. In addition to the high interest rates (15 to 24 percent, compared with the 2 to 4 percent for typical educational loans), some schools charge a convenience fee of around 2 to 4 percent for using a credit card. The paltry rewards points from your credit card don’t measure up.
Poole also encourages students to research sources within their community. Many local grants and scholarships can help students. Organizations to which you or your parents belong, employers and trade groups related to your major may all be sources of potential scholarships.
Cayuga also offers a student employment program, which enables students to earn money working on campus, and sometimes off-campus, while they are attending school to help pay for their education.
Scott Furlong provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at SUNY Oswego, also said that students concerned about paying their school bills should seek help at the financial aid office to “perhaps help them find resources or direct them to resources.”
“We do an awful lot of student employment or work/study programs,” Furlong added.
While working on campus may not provide the most lucrative employment, the scheduling accommodates a student’s schedule and you can’t beat the commute.
“The worst thing is to wait,” Furlong said. “We’re here to help students and will try to do the best we can to address those concerns.”
Ask your parents, grandparents or another relative for help. If they can’t afford to give you the money outright, ask about a short-term loan with a written plan in place to repay it with better interest than what they’re receiving. Then get that part-time job. If you can manage your time well, go for a full-time job.
You can also make money with your own business such as building websites, managing a local company’s social media, proofreading other students’ papers, performing lawn maintenance, or whatever you do well. A business that you can fit in and around your academic schedule ensures you won’t neglect your studies.
Long before you go home for winter break, line up a seasonal job between semesters. Do the same for summer break, and work as many hours as you can to make next year’s school bill easier to handle.