How to pay for college as a part-time student

If you’re preparing for your degree part-time, you’re probably used to having multiple irons in the fire. Whether you’re juggling work, family responsibilities, or other obligations, paying school fees is another task to add to your list.

Even if you are attending part-time, there are still ways to potentially get a scholarship, grant, and work-study programs that can help supplement the cost of school.

Here is an overview of how to pay for college as a part-time student.

Ways to request free money

When it comes to paying for school, consider tapping into free money sources first. It’s money you don’t have to pay back. With this, exchanges earn a place at the top of this list.


There are several types of Scholarships to consider. Some are merit-based, which often means maintaining top-notch grades or excelling in a particular sport or skill. Other scholarships are based on your degree, income, location, or demographics.

You can start your search for a scholarship by asking your local community, contacting your school’s financial aid office, and using the scholarship search tool sponsored by the Ministry of Labour.


Grants are another source of funding that you won’t have to repay. Typically, grants are need-based or tied to your particular background.

In order to find grants, the first step is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form may also qualify you for federal student loans, which you will need to repay.

When your FAFSA is submitted, you will know if you are eligible for grants. A few of the federal grant opportunities include Federal Pell Grants, Academic Competitiveness Grants, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), TEACH Grants, Service in Iraq and Afghanistan Grants, and Grants SMART.

But you can also find subsidies at the state level. Additionally, some grants are designed for your unique background.

Part-time work and side hustles

Work-study programs

The federal work-study program is designed to help students secure part-time jobs on campus. Although the exact amount you can earn varies, you’ll likely earn between $2,000 and $5,000 per year.

The advantage of a work-study program is that the jobs tend to be on campus. Plus, these jobs tend to be relatively low-stress, allowing you to focus on your studies.

Work off campus

Co-op jobs aren’t your only option for earning income while in school.

Some of the more readily available options include waiting tables, house cleaning, and working for a catering company on weekends. But the list of job opportunities does not stop there. You will find countless options for earning money while going to school part-time.

Based on a recent College Investor survey, we found that 55% of respondents were looking for extra cash. Here are the most popular ways to earn money:

If you’re looking for a flexible source of income, you can try freelance writing, tutoring, or babysitting. For students who want to work on building a business while studying, consider starting a blog, building an app, or designing t-shirts.

If you are looking for other income opportunities for your college years, check out this list of 100 real ways to make money while studying.

Employer sponsored tuition reimbursement programs

If you plan to work while you study, you might want to go work with an employer who offers a tuition reimbursement program. Many employers offer the option of paying for part of your education while you progress through school.

Currently, employers can provide up to $5,250 in tax-free tuition assistance. Some of the companies that offer tuition assistance include Amazon, Apple, Chick-Fil-A, Chipotle, FedEx, Publix, Starbucks, etc.

The exact details of each employer’s program vary. But in many cases, you will need to work for the company for several months before you are eligible for the program. If you are applying for a job with tuition reimbursement in mind, work out the details in advance.

Student loans

While no one is thrilled about coming out of college with a mountain of debt, student loans are an option for some part-time students. Generally, you will need to be enrolled at least half-time to take out federal student loans.

If you meet the course load requirements, taking out student loans can help pay for your education. But since student loans can have a lasting impact on your financial situation, it’s important to choose wisely.

If eligible for federal loans, try to stick to direct subsidized student loans. This type of loan does not charge interest on the loan while you are in school or during a grace period after you graduate. Other federal loan options include Direct Unsubsidized Loans and Direct PLUS Loans, both of which allow you to earn interest while you’re in school.

In addition to federal student loans, private student loans are an option. As a student, private student loans can help you cover education costs. But like federal student loans, these will have to be repaid. In most cases, the interest rates attached to private student loans are higher than those attached to federal student loans.

Choose an approach that works for you

When it comes to paying for college, there is no one way that is better than the others. And the reality is that most part-time students will cobble together multiple sources of funding to cover their education costs.

If you don’t want to burden yourself with debt, try to stay out of debt. Loans aren’t always a bad thing. In some cases, it offers the most efficient way to complete your studies. Before subscribing to a student loan, consult the expected return on investment of your degree to ensure that you will be able to repay it without hampering your financial situation indefinitely after graduation.

With a little creativity, you might even be able to avoid student loans while continuing your education.

What sources of funding will you explore to pay for your part-time tuition?

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