Beyond the FAFSA | Explore Your Options

Is it possible to earn a college degree without committing financial suicide? Yes. Here at MBU, we believe firmly that hard work, wisdom, and shrewd financial management can allow you to earn your degree and achieve your dreams. 

So, how are you supposed to do it?  

Evaluate your current financial condition 

Your stage in life will certainly affect the options you have for moving forward with your education. If you’re a Freshman or Sophomore in High School, you have more time to plan than those of you Seniors looking to attend college in the fall.  

Furthermore, if you’re an older prospect who is possibly married or has several years of work experience, your financial picture will look different from younger prospects.  

So, figure out how much money you have to work with. What do you have in savings? How much money will you be making over the summer? How much of that money can be dedicated to your education? Don’t be discouraged if your savings account seems small. Every dollar you dedicate to paying for college now is one less dollar you have to pay back in loans.  

Fill out the FAFSA 

To learn more about this process, read this post. In a nutshell, this will show you your options for federal financial aid, giving you a better idea of what you will need to provide on your own.  

Work Hard in School 

This goes to our younger high school students. Your grades matter, and your ACT score matters. By taking your grades seriously, seeking extra help from teachers and your school counselor, and achieving the highest grades you can, you will have better opportunities for college scholarships.  

Search online for free ACT practice tests and study apps such as Quizlet to help you achieve better grades. In addition, consider taking the ACT more than once to raise your score. Yes, paying the ACT fee twice isn’t cheap, but a higher score could give you an opportunity for hundreds or even thousands of extra dollars in scholarship money. The risk is generally worth the reward.  

Apply for Scholarships 

Scholarships are everywhere and they are abundant. Maranatha offers several scholarships, but that’s only a fraction of the opportunities out there.  

Your first stop is as easy as a google search. Ask your teachers or school counselor about scholarships in your community or check out local businesses for opportunities. In addition, organizations all over America offer scholarships to various demographic groups specifically.  

Maybe you’re the first member of your family to go to college. There’s a scholarship for that.  

Maybe you’re planning to return to your small town to be an entrepreneur. There’s a scholarship for that.  

Maybe you grew up in a multi-ethnic or multi-generational home. There’s probably a scholarship for that too. Get creative and aggressive when looking for scholarships. After all, that’s free money.  

Get a Job or Two 

Like we said, financing a college education is hard work. And like your parents always told you, money doesn’t grow on trees. You have to work for it. So get a job. You can work in high school and you can work on or off-campus through your college days.  

Saving the money you earn is going to add benefits to your financial picture, so don’t spend everything you make. If you don’t know what kind of job to get, consider making your hobby or talent a small business.  

Are you proficient in an instrument? Market yourself to play for weddings or other special occasions. Have experience in child or pet care? Become a sitter. Did your mom teach you how to clean your room? Clean houses. There are always options for making and saving money, you just have to be proactive about finding them.