No Money from Parents? 4 Ways to Self-fund College

parents_collegeThe idea that parents should pay for their children’s college education is a nice one, but it’s far from reality for many students.

Some parents seriously underestimate the current cost of college; others lack the means and are reluctant to co-sign loans. Then there are those parents who simply believe the responsibility of paying for college should fall on the person seeking a degree—that’s you.

Whatever the case may be, it’s time to take a good look at your options for funding college on your own.

1. Turn over every stone, even the weird ones.

Maybe you’re a straight-A genius who’s too busy rolling in the merit-based dough to worry about college funding. If you’re like the rest of us, though, there’s still good news: You don’t need a 4.0 to qualify for scholarships. Check out these popular College Confidential threads to see which awards average and above-average students are targeting. Then, ask your counselor to help you get a complete picture of your aid eligibility. Are your parents retirees? Are you a first-generation student? Is your family affiliated with any church or community groups? Are you left-handed, a vegetarian, or interested in learning duck calling? (Seriously, there are scholarships for all those things.) The secret to scoring major cash is following every possible source of funding, no matter how obscure.

2. Reevaluate your bottom line.

If you plan to take the standard $5,500 in federal direct loans and work while you’re in school, you can reasonably expect to afford a net tuition price of around $10,000 per year (after grants and scholarships). Think that price point limits you to state schools? Think again. Recent studies show a widespread lack of understanding when it comes to the real cost of college. Know your options, and don’t write off any school without first exploring their Net Price Calculator and talking to a financial aid representative.

3. Take an alternate route.

Instead of going straight to a four-year institution, many students are choosing to start out at an affordable community college and transfer later. Similarly, some opt to take a year or two off after high school to save up as much as possible. If these are options that could work for you, just be sure you have a solid plan in place, and don’t let yourself get sidetracked from your goal of earning a college degree.

4. Take what you can get.

Remember that not all valuable contributions are monetary. It’s time to sit down with your parents and have a serious talk about other expenses they might be able to help you with. If they’re fine to let you live at home during college, that’s several thousands per year you can save on housing. What about car/health insurance? Family cell phone plans? Books, meals, and other expenses? Even relatively small savings can be a huge leg up in the long run.


This article was written by Hannah Purnell

Hannah Purnell is a staff writer for Hannah writes extensively on the topic of undergraduate studies and the college search process.


  1. Chris Brown

    ways to self fund college is very important, you need to constantly look for ways to fund college and make money for yourself

  2. sharon messer

    While liing on campus – does student need to get job? Also does students receive monthly allowance? is this college private school Thank you Have a good day

  3. Carrie

    There is nothing wrong with saving as much cash as you can from your little part-time job during high school, THEN taking off 1 year and working your A** off with two part-time jobs, 6 or 7 days a week. Being a full-time nanny during the day at $14 per hour cash is very possible, then part-time 1 or 2 evenings waitressing (mainly Friday and Saturday nights) works!! And living at home. No crazy drinking or clubbing and limited shopping. Then, year two after high school, keep that job you have and take 2 or maybe 3 courses at the Community College either days or nights, and of course all through the Summer. Year three after high school, enroll in Community College full time and get a part-time job 1 or 2 nights per week or on weekends. Yes, this means living rent-free with Mom and Dad. Finish Community College. Take whatever savings you have from working, and get any scholarship you can get, take any loans you can get, and go to the local state school within driving distance (or train/bus distance)
    of your parent’s house.

  4. Carrie

    That means living rent free in your parent’s house, driving whatever cheap used crummy car you can find, very limited shopping, cheap cell phone plan, NO vacations ANYWHERE (except free ones) and no drinking (a wasteful expense).

  5. Bluntley

    Ya know if I just had a little more damn money I could have continued on to get my fancy liberal college education. If I just had the cash at the time to go straight to a four year and be in a frat, omg would I be so much richer now. I sure as heck wouldn’t be busting my butt for pennies at 25. If my parents made 40- 50grNd more a head than my life would have been incredibly different. I hate being poor! It sucks!!!! I just wish I was born a trustifarian and could have everything- and blow it on drugs and go to rehab 2x and finally just get my $h1tt together at 25 and be set up with a killer job in a company my father owns. People are living so much better lives! I hate that I’m just gonna be a working class shmuck ! What’s worse is giving up on all my ambitions and slowly but painfully accept the role in this world I have been destined to fill my entire life.

  6. Kenneth Casper

    “Over and over, I told this to you”. Doesn’t anybody have anything original to say about college? This is like the kid who has this terrific coin collection to show everybody. So when he brings it out and shows it to you, it’s the same five coins that everybody else has collected from cereal boxes. College is an enjoyable experience. That is true. College is necessary–not true. You can get the same education from visiting libraries and probably more. The cardboard is so widespread that nobody is impressed anymore. The best thing to do is to try to think up various new ways to make money. Most of them won’t work, but then you probably aren’t going to win every shake of the dice either. Ideas come from people who dream and experiment and not from people who follow the well-paved highway.

  7. ossey angui-sai roll

    I am student in second year and I would like to continue my studies in united states in order to deepen my am in the listening in hope of an answer favorable.thank you

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