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How to Pay for an Accounting or Finance Degree

College can be expensive. And if you want to leave school without massive amounts of student loan debt, you need a plan for how you’ll pay. Thankfully, there are plenty of options.

The High Cost of College

The cost of getting a college education is higher than it’s ever been – and it’s increasing at an unrelenting pace. And when you combine this with the normalization of debt in our society, you get the results we’re seeing.

“Among the Class of 2019, 69% of college students took out student loans, and they graduated with an average debt of $29,900, including both private and federal debt,” Student Loan Hero points out. “Meanwhile, 14% of their parents took out an average of $37,200 in federal Parent PLUS Loans.”

The student loan crisis is a little bit of a chicken and an egg problem. Did an increased emphasis on college education and normalization of debt give universities the freedom to increase tuition exponentially? Or did the high cost of college lead thousands of students to take on a massive debt that they won’t be able to pay off for decades? It seems that both are true. And this has created an accelerated spin cycle that will get worse before it gets better.

How to Pay for Your Degree

The financial side of college paints a bleak picture. However, you don’t have to go into massive amounts of debt to get your accounting or finance degree. 

We’re not going to sit here and tell you that leaving college debt-free is as easy as picking up a part-time job at Starbucks, but we’re confident that you can whittle down the cost and significantly reduce your debt burden. 

To do this, you must be willing to think strategically, work hard, and be proactive.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Find Scholarships

The first suggestion is to find scholarships. Many students are under the impression that the only scholarships that exist are university scholarships and state programs that offer a full ride. However, there are plenty of other scholarships available – many of which are designed for very specific students. If you don’t proactively seek these scholarships out, you might not know about them.

While most students spend their time looking for full-ride scholarships, there’s something to be said for layering smaller scholarships together to put a dent in the cost of your education. The Wiley scholarship program, for example, awards a $1,000 scholarship to a new accounting or finance student each month based on different qualifications. By applying for scholarships like these, you can take full advantage of all the “free” money that’s out there. 

  1. Secure Grants

Grants are another option. Many colleges, states, and even the federal government will give out grants based on financial need. They determine this need by income, which is reported via the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as FAFSA.

Even if you don’t think you’ll qualify for FAFSA, you should apply. On average, undergrads at public universities receive an average of $5,000. Students at private colleges receive around $16,700 on average.

  1. Get a Work-Study Job

The years of paying for college by waiting tables at night are behind us. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t put a big dent in your tuition by working. In fact, you might find work-study jobs to be quite lucrative (in terms of paying down tuition).

Every school has different work-study programs. Some will pay you an hourly rate that comes directly out of your tuition, while others may go so far as to cover your entire tuition by making a commitment to work a particular campus job. 

  1. Borrow from Your Parents

If you’re going to take out debt, you might as well do it on the most favorable terms possible. If – and this is a big “if” – your parents are willing and able to lend you the money directly, this is your best option. Whether they offer an interest-free loan or beneficial repayment terms, this setup gives you a lot more flexibility. 

Adding it All Up

For most accounting and finance students, it takes a combination of these tips and strategies to chip away at the cost of college. However, the more proactive you are about embracing these suggestions, the better your financial situation will be after graduation. Get creative!