From financial aid to scholarships and grants to student loan forgiveness programs to online jobs for college students, there are plenty of options available to help with college costs so you can attend college.
Using the right strategies, you can earn money for tuition, room and board, books, and more- without taking away from your actual studies.
In this article, we’ll explore the seven best ways to get paid to go to school.
Quick Picks: Money For College Students
Before we get into the details on getting paid to go to school, here are our top picks for the article, plus some side hustles to help you earn money around your school work:
- Best Way To Earn Free Tuition – Grants
- Best Student Side Hustle – Freelance Writing
- Best Side Hustle App – Steady App
- Biggest Money-Saving Job – Resident Advisor
- Easiest Money-Maker – Selling Books
7 Best Ways To Get Paid To Go To School
While most students are used to paying for their education, there are several college aid programs that students can use to get paid for school.
Whatever your circumstances, there’s likely to be a college financial aid program that can help you finance your education and achieve your career goals.
1. Join The Military
Many benefits come with joining the military. One of the most significant benefits is that the military will pay for your college education.
Per Military.com, the Military Tuition Assistance program reimburses the costs of qualified members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard for education.
Each branch of the military is allowed, by Congress, to pay 100% of one member’s tuition expenses. The money is generally paid directly to the educational institution by the individual services.
Each service has eligibility requirements, required service time, the application process, and limits.
U.S. Military Branches/Military Tuition Assistance
Each branch of the service provides financial assistance. All active duty military members can use the GI Bill “Top-Up” program and their service-provided tuition assistance to pay for high-cost courses.
Find out more about the individual program regulations by clicking on each service:
- Air Force Tuition Assistance
- Army Tuition Assistance
- Navy Tuition Assistance
- Marines Tuition Assistance
- Coast Guard Tuition Assistance
- National Guard Tuition Assistance
- Reserve Tuition Assistance
Active military members serving abroad can also participate in Distance Learning for Military Members Abroad. This program provides a variety of accredited college courses to service members stationed overseas.
2. Grants & Scholarships
Most universities and colleges offer federal student aid programs; in some cases, the programs will cover your entire tuition, so you don’t incur student loan debt.
Other educational assistance programs may only cover a percentage of your tuition or a particular expense, depending on if there is a great financial need that would not allow you to go to school.
Grants and scholarships are the best ways to get paid to go to school- they’re free money that doesn’t need to be repaid, unlike loans!
Grants represent free money, usually given on a first-come, first-served basis and offered to students with the most financial need on their federal financial aid form.
Scholarships usually represent aid based on academic achievement or other unique talents and abilities.
Finding Grants & Scholarships
Colleges determine the amount of financial assistance in federal grants, loans, pell grants, scholarships, or work-study job openings based on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) criteria.
The amount of money you receive from federal student aid programs is directly related to your income, savings, and other financial considerations. Simply fill out the form, and you’ll know how much federal grant money you can qualify for.
Otherwise, you can search for scholarships and grants through your college or university and online scholarship databases like CollageScholarships.
3. Merit & Minority Grants
If you are good in mathematics, sciences, or any other field, you should consider searching for colleges that offer merit grants.
Merit scholarships are a great way to reduce the cost of attending school for talented students who excel in academics or other areas.
Scholarships are offered to exceptional academic students but also those who excel in other areas, such as the arts, music, sports, and more.
Scholarships and grants are also available to help students from minority groups pay for their education. Different schools have different offerings, so it’s essential to do your research before deciding where to attend college.
The best way to find out about the different forms of grants and sponsorships offered at different colleges is to ask your college counselor or check out the websites of your preferred school.
Finding Grants & Scholarships
There are several ways to find federal grants, public grants, institutional grants, and scholarships, including online search engines, grants databases, and scholarship directories.
Some minority-specific scholarships are available through employers, community organizations, or professional associations.
Organizations that offer scholarships and grants specifically for minorities include:
- The Gates Millennium Scholars Program is a scholarship for minority students with high academic achievement.
- The United Negro College Fund offers several scholarships and grants for minority students. Some are based on academic merit, while others are based on financial need.
- The Hispanic Scholarship Fund offers scholarships and grants to Hispanic students who demonstrate academic excellence and community service.
- The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People offers scholarships to students of color who demonstrate financial need for full-time undergraduate and graduate studies.
College Scholarships for Minorities is a website that provides information on various scholarships and grants for minority students. The site includes a searchable database of scholarships.
4. Employer Reimbursement
Many private companies offer a variety of benefits to their employees, ranging from health insurance to retirement plans.
One increasingly popular benefit is tuition reimbursement. Under this program, an employer agrees to reimburse employees’ tuition fees up to a certain amount.
Tuition reimbursement programs can also benefit employers, as they can help attract and retain talented workers. These programs can improve worker productivity and morale and help to enhance an employer’s reputation as a supportive and invested organization.
Corporate tuition reimbursements can be a substantial financial assistance for employees attending college and help them attain the skills and knowledge needed to advance in their careers.
Finding Employers With a tuition reimbursement program
Student loan debt is a huge stressor for most students. The worst part is that you know your paycheck will go towards repaying student loans after graduation!
How do you avoid this situation? Find an employer that offers career-specific tuition benefits to go to school.
There are a few things to remember when searching for an employer with tuition reimbursement or a partial tuition coverage program.
- Check with the local chamber of commerce, professional associations, or business associations. They may provide a list of companies in your area that offer tuition reimbursement.
- Attend job fairs and career fairs. Many employers use these events to promote their company’s benefits, so you’ll likely find several employers with tuition reimbursement.
Once you’ve found employers with a tuition reimbursement program, don’t forget to:
- Be sure to research the policies of each potential employer to see if they offer this benefit.
- Inquire about any eligibility requirements that may be in place.
- Ensure you understand the policies’ terms to plan your higher education.
5. Tuition-Free Community College
Enrolling in a community college is one of the simplest methods to earn money while going to school. A community college education can be a bachelor’s degree or a two-year associate degree.
Certain communities in the United States have made community colleges free to residents.
While a handful of schools exist purely online and are tuition-free colleges, most offer free tuition through financial aid programs.
They extend federal financial aid, private grants, or other perks to qualifying applicants, including students from low-income families or with military experience, to help them attend school.
To find tuition-free community colleges, you can search on the internet and find many websites that will provide you with a list of these colleges.
One site we found was Best Colleges, which has a list of 31 states that offers tuition-free community college degree programs.
Some of the states and programs on their list are:
- Arkansas – Arkansas Future Grant
- California – California Promise
- Connecticut – Pledge to Advance CT
- Delaware – Student Excellence Equals Degree
- Georgia – Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally (HOPE) Grant and Zell Miller Grant
- Hawaii – The Hawai’i Promise Scholarship
Contact the financial aid office of the local community college in your area to see if they offer tuition-free aid to help you go to school.
Online tuition-free colleges
The Affordable Colleges website has compiled a comprehensive list of online tuition-free schools. The site also offers a search tool to help students find online colleges in each state that offer higher education online programs.
6. No-Loan Colleges
The idea of paying for college without loans sounds like an attractive alternative, but is it really possible?
The no-loan college option is an education scholarship and grant program providing qualified students free tuition. These colleges look at your financial status, then create a plan to afford the cost based on what you can afford rather than charging flat fees upfront like most universities do.
These are a few of the most popular no-loan colleges:
- Amherst College
- Brown University
- College of the Ozarks
- Columbia University
- Davidson College
- University of Pennsylvania
- Vanderbilt University
7. College Tax Breaks
College students may benefit from tax deductions. The IRS provides several incentives to students. Some of the cost of higher education tuition can be deducted from total taxes owing due to these benefits.
The federal government’s education tax credits can result in students’ cash being returned after paying their taxes. The AOTC (American Opportunity Tax Credit) provides a $2,500 tax break for students in addition to the standard tax credits.
If the credit lowers your tax obligation to zero, you may get back to 40% of any remaining amount of the credit (up to $1,000).
Another tax credit the federal government made available is the Lifetime Learning Credit or LLC. The Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC) is a tax credit provided by the federal government for eligible expenses related to qualified tuition at an eligible educational institution.
Up to $2,000 per tax return can be credited towards undergraduate and professional degree courses with Lifetime Learning Credit- there’s no limit on how many years you can claim it.
Making Money In College
There are a lot of college students out there who are looking for ways to make money. After all, tuition is expensive, and books and supplies can add up quickly.
So what are the best ways to make money while in school? Here are 7 great ideas:
Steady App Freelancing
Freelancing is great for securing a paycheck as a student without jumping through hoops.
With the Steady app, you can find gigs in your area that fit your schedule. It’s a great way to find side hustles that pay well and won’t take away from your school work.
The Steady app features a variety of the best side hustles in your area, including:
Becoming a proofreader is a great way to make money while attending school. It’s a fast-paced and highly detail-oriented job that can be very rewarding.
As a proofreader, you would be responsible for reviewing written content for errors before it is published. This could be anything from a book to an article to a website.
Proofreading can be a great way to earn money while attending school because it doesn’t require a lot of specialized training or education.
If you want to become a proofreader, there are several things you can do to get started. The easiest way is to take the FREE workshop by Proofread Anywhere to learn how to start a proofreading business.
Our favorite way to earn money when attending college is blogging. Our blog has changed our lives, and honestly would’ve been an enormous blessing and stable income if we had started it in college!
You can start a blog using a web host like Bluehost about any topic you’re passionate about, whether it’s college life, beauty, fashion, or general lifestyle.
There are a few different ways to make money blogging.
The most common is through ads or affiliate links, which you can place throughout your blog. You get paid every time someone clicks on a link and signs up, and you earn a commission from the sale (even if the product is free!).
Another way to monetize your blog is through sponsored posts, where companies pay you to write about their products or services.
Becoming a freelance writer is one of the best ways to make money while attending college. Many online writing platforms allow you to publish your work and get paid for it. You can also find writing gigs on freelancing websites.
To be a successful freelance writer, you need to have excellent writing skills and be able to produce high-quality content. You should also be able to meet deadlines and work independently. If you can do all that, you can make a good income as a freelance writer.
To learn more about becoming a freelance writer, take the FREE workshop by Earn More Writing.
Online surveys are an excellent way to earn a little extra money or free gift cards each month while in college.
You can do them in your spare time, and they require no special skills. All you need is an opinion and a willingness to answer questions about topics you’re familiar with.
Some of the best survey sites we’ve been using since college include:
Sell Used Textbooks
Another way to earn some money while in school is by selling your used textbooks. You can do this online through sites like sellbackyourBook, where you pop in the ISBN, and they offer you cash on the spot.
You can also sell them back to your campus bookstore, but price shop around so you get the most money for your book. They were expensive, and you may as well try and get as much of that cash back!
The best way to get paid to go to school is by getting an on-campus job. On-campus jobs are great because they usually have lower hours, so you can still focus on your studies and still make money.
The most common type of on-campus job is a Resident Assistant (R.A.) position.
R.A.s are responsible for helping residents with any problems or concerns they may have. They also create social events for the residents to participate in. The best part about being an R.A. is getting free room and board, so it’s a job with significant savings for a college student!
Now you can get paid to go to school with these seven methods, whether it’s a lifelong commitment of joining the military or simply applying for scholarships and grants online.
You aren’t limited to one option either- you can work as an R.A. and get scholarships and grants, plus make money with side hustles on Steady.
And the best part is that most of these methods won’t interfere with your studies. Some are less than the work of a weekend job. Plus, the reduced personal finance stress of education loans might even help you learn better!
So what are you waiting for? Check out some of the ways to get paid to go to school on this list and see which option is best for you!