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Education Investment
Photo: Linda DuBose
With the current concerns about our country’s economy, being a college student (or even their parent) can be stressful. Paying for tuition, on top of housing, food, and bills is tough, especially when you are trying to avoid debt as much as possible. God calls us to be responsible with the resources He has given us and even though college is an investment, it’s important to be sure that the investment pays off in the end. As I’ve sought that goal over the past few years leading up to my graduation, there have been several key ways I have learned from experience to help minimize debt and pay for my college experience.

Maximize financial aid.
Even though it means filling out the dreaded FAFSA form, go for it. Although your eligibility varies depending on your income level for the previous year, most of us are able to receive at least something and every dollar helps.

Apply for scholarships. Many of us immediately respond with, “But my GPA….” Actually, while a number of scholarships require a higher GPA, you may be able to find a scholarship with other specific criteria. For example, even though his GPA wasn’t particularly higher than his classmates, my husband recently received a scholarship because it was intended specifically for male nursing students. Similarly, there are scholarships for women in typically male professions or for students from particular religious backgrounds or for single moms, etc. Consider what might apply to you.

Don’t take classes mindlessly. If you haven’t selected a major, choose general classes that will apply to most majors, with your adviser’s help. If you aren’t sure, ask. Once you have a major, laying out your class schedule for the next few years is incredibly helpful. I’ve watched many classmates deal with time conflicts and taking extra classes because they didn’t plan in advance. Planning always pays off.

Find a part-time job. Working while you’re in school can be stressful, but you may be able to find a good opportunity that will coincide with your schedule. I was able to work at my school library when I lived on campus and the job allowed me to work in a quiet, fairly non-stressful environment between my classes. Even if it’s only a few hours per week, it does add up.

Consider dual enrollment options. If you are still in high school or a parent of a high schooler considering college, many states have programs which allow high school students to enroll at their local community college. The names of the programs vary from state to state, but generally, they cover the cost of tuition and the class credits apply toward high school and college.

Pray. This element may not seem as practical as the others, but God has called us to be stewards of our resources and when we are committed to being responsible, He will provide! Ask Him for wisdom as you deal with financial decisions and for opportunities to help cover the cost of your education. Many times as I have felt overwhelmed with the impending costs and issues with my financial plan, He has stepped in—often to help me with the specific problem, but most of all, to help me trust Him and step out in faith.

While a certain amount of loans may be inevitable for many of us, utilizing resources like these can help us keep them at a minimum. They can make our college experience less stressful as we strive toward our goal of graduation and the career we feel God is calling us to. With His help, we can make our education an investment that will further enable us to serve Him with our lives!

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Danae Schilt. Copyright © 2009 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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