College costs are soaring, and students (and their parents) need help paying those tuition bills now more than ever. These days, every little bit helps, so you can't afford to overlook any possible source of money to help pay for school. Here are some options you may have missed.

IN PICTURES: Obtaining Credit In A Bad Economy

  1. Uncle Sam
    In many ways, government grants are the best form of aid because, unlike loans, you don't have to pay them back - and you really don't need to exert much effort to get them, as long as your family income is below a certain level. The primary government programs are the federal Pell grant and individual state grant programs. There are also some grant programs for specific majors.
    The main thing you need to do to get this money is to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), along with any forms required by your state. And pay careful attention to deadlines: if you submit the forms too late, you may be out of luck.

  2. Scholarships
    We've all heard about those quirky scholarships, such as the one for left-handed students (it's a $1,000-$1,500 scholarship from Juniata College in Pennsylvania, by the way), but there are lots of other, less exotic sources of scholarships. Students should start with their religious organizations, the student's/parent's employer and any organizations connected to the student's ethnic heritage.
    For help in locating scholarships, use an online database such as the one on, which allows you to search based on a variety of criteria. (For more, see Students: There May Be A Tailor-Made Scholarship Out There For You.)

  3. Rewards Programs
    One of the easiest ways to earn money for college is by earning rewards for things you would buy anyway. Upromise is a rewards program run by Sallie Mae. Users simply register for free and designate the student beneficiary. Then a portion of each dollar spent at any of the partner retailers is deposited into an account for that student. There's also an Upromise MasterCard that earns rewards on every purchase. Rewards can then transferred into a 529 account, a high-yield savings account or used to pay off student expenses.

  4. Negotiations
    You may have already gotten an award letter from your school's financial aid office, but that doesn't mean you've exhausted that source of help.

    Kristen Campbell, director of college prep programs for Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions, offers this advice: "Don't be afraid to ask for a re-evaluation. By the time a school accepts you as a student, it sees you as a worthwhile investment on its part, so it will usually want to help you figure out financing. If applicable, send copies of award letters from other schools for comparison. One of the last things a school wants to have happen is to lose fantastic students to a competing school."

  5. Volunteer Service
    Carol Stewart of says many people aren't yet aware of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which was passed last year.
    "The Act - managed by AmeriCorps - encourages students, parents and grandparents to volunteer in exchange for vouchers that can be used toward higher education," Stewart says, adding that parents and grandparents can transfer the voucher to their children or grandchildren. (To learn more, see Cash And Student Loan Forgiveness: The Perfect First Job.)

  6. Tapping Your Social Network
    GreenNote is a service that's based on the same premise as those peer-to-peer micro-lending sites. A student sets up a profile and then they (or their parents) send out the link to their social networks. People can then make an online donation - the minimum is just $20 - to help support that student's education. It's not a loan, so it doesn't need to be repaid, and there are no credit checks involved.

The Bottom Line

Those tuition bills can be painful, so it is worth investing a little bit of time and effort to research every possible source of additional funds that can help make college a bit easier on the budget. (For more helpful hints, check out Pay For College Without Selling A Kidney.)

Catch up on your financial news; read Water Cooler Finance: Goldman Fined, Financial Fixes And Apple's "Apology".

Related Articles
  1. Personal Finance

    Is An Ivy League Degree Worth It?

    In 600 B.C. Aesop determined that a bird in the hand was worth two in the bush. Warren Buffett claims that this axiom can be used to determine the most valuable uses of capital. In this article ...
  2. Savings

    Should You Look at 529 Plans Outside Your State?

    529 savings plans are not restricted by geography. So if your in-state offering has high fees or poor investment choices, look elsewhere.
  3. Investing

    4 Billionaires Who Dropped Out of Harvard

    People who became successful despite dropping out of Harvard University.
  4. Credit & Loans

    Student Financial Aid Changes: FAFSA 2015-2016

    Here is a look at some of the major changes to FAFSA in 2015 - 2016 and how they will affect student financial aid.
  5. Credit & Loans

    What to Do When You Can't Repay Your Student Loans

    Student loans should be kept in good standing no matter what. Here are some tips on managing your loans.
  6. Credit & Loans

    Student Loan Deferment: Live to Pay Another Day

    Extending your principal repayment date can increase your chances of fighting off default.
  7. Credit & Loans

    Fund Your Schooling with PLUS Loans

    Find out what they and are whether you're eligible to apply for these no-maximum loans.
  8. Professionals

    Why Millennials Might Not Be Ideal Clients

    Here's why luring millennial clients might be a waste of time (for now).
  9. Credit & Loans

    An Introduction to Student Loans and the FAFSA

    Learn how to fill out the FAFSA form so that it is easier for you to fund your education.
  10. Professionals

    Consider A Career As A Financial Communications Professional

    Regulators, sales people and clients all look to communications professionals to help them navigate the markets.
  1. Who is eligible for student loan forgiveness?

    Your eligibility for student loan forgiveness depends on the type of student loan in question. If you have a federal loan, ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What’s the difference between the two federal student loan programs (FFEL and Direct)?

    The short answer is that one loan program still exists (Federal Direct Loans) and one was ended by the Health Care and Education ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Can Sallie Mae loans be forgiven?

    Sallie Mae loans, similar to other private loans, cannot be forgiven. As of 2015, there is no option for private student ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Can Sallie Mae loans be consolidated?

    Sallie Mae loans can be consolidated with other federal loans, but not with private loans. For federal loan consolidation, ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How does Sallie Mae disburse funds?

    Sallie Mae is the number one provider of financial aid and student loans in the United States, servicing over 25 million ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Do Sallie Mae loans go directly to your school?

    Sallie Mae is the biggest provider of financial aid and student loans in the United States. The company operates as a private ... Read Full Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Cyber Monday

    An expression used in online retailing to describe the Monday following U.S. Thanksgiving weekend. Cyber Monday is generally ...
  2. Bar Chart

    A style of chart used by some technical analysts, on which, as illustrated below, the top of the vertical line indicates ...
  3. Take A Bath

    A slang term referring to the situation of an investor who has experienced a large loss from an investment or speculative ...
  4. Black Friday

    1. A day of stock market catastrophe. Originally, September 24, 1869, was deemed Black Friday. The crash was sparked by gold ...
  5. Turkey

    Slang for an investment that yields disappointing results or turns out worse than expected. Failed business deals, securities ...
  6. Barefoot Pilgrim

    A slang term for an unsophisticated investor who loses all of his or her wealth by trading equities in the stock market. ...
Trading Center