When you are growing up it seems like the elementary school years stretch on forever. Then, when you get to high school, things seem to accelerate and the courses get more challenging. Social development and relationships are also more nuanced and complex. Then, when you head into your senior year, you are suddenly faced with a whole new set of life choices as you grapple with post-graduation plans and have to decide which college or university you will attend. In addition to choosing between small colleges and big state universities, you’ll have to check out academic ratings and student diversity. With everything going on in the world, you may also make decisions based on how far you have to travel to and from school. Increasingly, new students are selecting four-year degree programs that are closer to home. You’ll also need to take a good look at the cost of your degree program and come up with some creative ways to pay for your education.

Financing Your Higher Education

College costs have skyrocketed over the last 20 years. The average tuition at a private university in 2001 was around $17,000. By 2020 private tuition costs had risen to over $41,000. The dramatic rise in tuition as well as the high cost for room and board, fees and books have made it nearly impossible to pay for your degree program without taking out student loans. With your college acceptance letter, you will also receive information about the annual costs for attending your school. It’s likely that the university will then offer you scholarship and grant money that will reduce what you have to pay for the year. From there, you can apply for private student loans that will allow you to pay the remaining balance of what you owe that year for your undergraduate degree. Private student loans are typically available from credit unions, banks and financial institutions.

Apply for Specialized Scholarships

It’s also possible to apply for and receive specialized scholarships that can be used to pay for the high costs of tuition and room and board. Local civic organizations, such as the Rotary Club, may have scholarships available for promising students who live in the area. There is a federal site that lets you search for free scholarships and there are also commercial websites that have a searchable scholarship database. If you are interested in pursuing a specialized degree in a field such as engineering or architecture, for example, you may also want to look for scholarships offered by national organizations that focus on that field. You should also check to see whether your parent’s employer offers funds to help pay for a child’s education. Some states also have grants or money available for residents who are pursuing a college degree.

Become a Social Media Expert

Many students try their best to pay for part of their education by working a part-time job. Unfortunately, in most college towns, the competition for jobs is fierce and the pay rates are low. To really make the money you need for school you are going to need to get technical training that sets you apart from the rest. One of the best areas you can focus on is to become a social media expert. There are numerous online training resources that allow you to master and perfect skills in social media management. Once you are trained you can offer your services to both local businesses and to clients you can serve virtually anywhere in the country. If you invest in social media training, you’ll find that you can develop a high-paying practice that can be generate the money needed to pay for a substantial part of your annual education costs.