A two- or four-year college degree is an investment that usually leads to a more fulfilling career and higher lifetime earnings than a high school diploma alone can yield. The catch is that college tuition is expensive. To enjoy the payoff from your post-high school education, it's important to keep college expenses low and avoid racking up student debt. Here are some ways that you can find grants, scholarships and other tuition benefits that essentially help you get paid to attend school.
Corporate Tuition Reimbursement
If your employer offers tuition reimbursement as part of your benefits package, then taking advantage of this perk can be a straightforward way to get paid to go to school. Tuition reimbursement policies vary, and if you plan to go to school in the near future, it's a good idea to look into the details of what your prospective employer's tuition policy covers before accepting a job offer. For example, some employers pay for any degree, while other employers will only pay for education related to their line of business. Employers may also place annual limits on how much tuition they reimburse, and you might have to maintain a certain grade point average (GPA) to qualify for the benefit. Tuition reimbursement can also impact your taxes. As of 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) taxes educational assistance over $5250 a year as part of your income.
Military Tuition Benefits
Money for higher education and training is one of the benefits that attracts people to military service. Some of the tuition benefits available for military service members include the following as of 2017: Military Tuition Assistance pays up $4500 in tuition per year for eligible recipients, with different rules applying for each branch of the military. The Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) benefits pay about $1700 per month or up to $64,000 for 36 months of tuition to pay a broad range of qualifying college education and vocational or technical training. You need a minimum of two years of military service in order to qualify for MGIB benefits. Family members of some veterans can also receive money for tuition through the Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA) program.
Four-Year Colleges Degrees
One of the best ways for traditional students to get paid to earn a college degree is to attend a four-year college or university that offers to cover 100% of demonstrated student financial need. Although public universities have lower tuition rates, some private and liberal arts schools with hefty endowments offer more generous financial aid packages. To qualify for need-based grants and scholarships at such schools, you'll need to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Because colleges determine financial aid based on need, you typically won't need to apply separately for grants or scholarships.
Community College Education
Many community college students don't realize that they can receive grants to cover all or part of their tuition by simply submitting a FAFSA each year. The most commonly awarded need-based grant is the federal Pell Grant, which awards up to $5,920 to full-time students as of the 2017-2018 school year. The maximum grant award can cover the cost of full-time enrollment in most community college degree programs. Qualifying students who work and attend community college part-time may also be eligible to receive Pell Grant money on a prorated basis.
Merit and Minority Scholarships and Grants
Merit scholarships and grants are awarded to students with a demonstrated track record of achievement in a field. For example, students can qualify for grants and scholarships based on their participation in school sports, or for maintaining a high GPA. Students who are members of underrepresented groups can also qualify for scholarship and grant aid designated for minority students. The best place to find out about legitimate grants and scholarships is through a counselor or resources provided by your high school or college. You can also conduct independent research using websites such as CareerOneStop, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, and state higher education agency sites.