Mustering up the budget to pay for college doesn't have to only be about savings accounts and student loans—there is a lot of preparation that you can do before and during your time at school to help fund your education.
Here are five simple ways to improve your ability to pay for college.
Use Your Smarts
One of the strongest tools at your disposal when it comes to getting some financial assistance to pay for your time at a college or university is academic excellence. The amount of assistance you can receive based on your high school grades and overall academic performance is significant. Take classes during your junior and senior years that challenge you, and put in the work to make them successful by the time your report card comes in. And make sure that you do your research on scholarship options—talk to your high school counselor. Your SDSU admissions representative can also help you find academic-based financial-assistance opportunities, so reach out!
Use Your Talents
Earning yourself some scholarship love is about more than just your classroom performance—you can receive a very helpful amount of budget assistance based on your talents and skills, as well. This isn't just restricted to athletic scholarships, either—arts- and extracurricular-based scholarships are also available for those willing to put in the time to apply (and, in some cases, audition). Talk to your SDSU admissions rep about your options for talent-based assistance.
Use Your Time
Earning some funding to pay for college expenses doesn't just happen before you arrive on campus—you can continue to work toward financial aid opportunities when school is in session. Work study is a chance for you to earn a regular paycheck for holding a position on campus. These positions on the SDSU campus may include general office work or assisting at SDSU hotspots like the South Dakota Art Museum. Find out more about SDSU's work study program here.
Use Your Service
There's also a benefit to what you choose to do after high school—serving in the military affords you even more opportunities to earn some funding for your college budget. Veterans in South Dakota can apply for tuition assistance through the state's Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Plus, there are a variety of scholarships available to individuals who have served. Get some more information about SDSU's opportunities for veterans and military service members here.
Use Your FAFSA
One of the most powerful tools for maximizing your financial assistance for college is meeting FAFSA deadlines and applying correctly. (To get started on completing your FAFSA, take a look at SDSU's step-by-step.) FAFSA can open up opportunities for grants and loans approved through the federal government, so it's a primary source for bolstering your budget.