Pay for College

How to make the college investment

The thought of how to pay for college can often be scary. While there is no arguing that a college degree can be expensive, money should not keep you from pursuing your dreams of continuing your education.

Instead, view your education as an investment rather than an expense. There are several financial aid options, such as scholarships, grants, loans and work study, that can help you finance higher education.

Understanding total cost

As you research how to pay for college, look at financial aid opportunities in the context of total college cost. The total cost for tuition, fees, room and board, books, etc. will vary by college.

Federal law requires that all colleges and universities provide a net price calculator on their websites to help you with financial planning. To learn more about Missouri State’s costs, check out our net price calculator.

Applying for scholarships

Scholarships are gifts of money that you don’t have to pay back. They can be offered by colleges, outside organizations or individual donors.

Some scholarships are merit-based, meaning they are awarded based on academic achievement or accomplishments. Others are based on extra-curricular involvement or leadership. Others are even based on financial need.

When looking for scholarships, remember the following:

  • Check deadlines. Deadlines for scholarships vary between different colleges and organizations.
  • Apply for everything you might be eligible of receiving. You never know until you try. You might pick up an extra $500!
  • Talk to your high school counselors. Your high school counselors are great resources for scholarships offered in your community. Ask them to help you in the application process and to proofread any essays or résumés you may have to write.
  • Only use free scholarship search engines. You should NEVER have to pay money to apply for a scholarship. We encourage you to check out engines such as Fastweb, FinAid, ScholarshipExperts, SuperCollege Scholarship Search and Scholarship Hunter.
  • Be familiar with scholarship tips when using scholarship search engines. The Missouri Department of Higher Education offers great tips for students who are applying for scholarships.

Completing your FAFSA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is the main form used to determine eligibility for financial aid. The results of the FAFSA are used in determining student grants, loan amounts and eligibility for work study:

  • Grants, typically based on financial need, are awarded by the government and do not have to be paid back.
  • Loans refer to money borrowed by students or parents. Most student loans have low interest rates and do not have to be repaid until you leave college.
  • Work study provides a part-time job on campus or in the community to qualified students with financial need.

Each college has a different deadline for filling out the FAFSA; therefore, it is important that you check deadlines at all the colleges you are interested in attending.

By using the FAFSA4caster, you can get an early estimate of your eligibility for federal student financial aid.