How to Pay for College Without Financial Aid if You Lost EligibilityDecember 9, 2022
Federal financial aid is a common way to pay for school at colleges nationwide. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 87% of first-year undergraduate students received federal aid through grants or student loans.
However, not everyone qualifies for federal aid, and it’s possible to lose your eligibility. For example, you aren’t eligible if you aren’t a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and you can lose eligibility for federal aid if you default on existing student loans.
So what can you do if you can’t use federal grants or loans? Fortunately, there are other resources available that can help offset the cost of your education. Continue reading to learn how to pay for school without financial aid.
Who Is Not Eligible for Financial Aid?
Federal financial aid isn’t available to everyone; there are criteria and requirements that you must meet to qualify for this type of aid. In general, students must:
- Be U.S. citizens or permanent residents with a valid Social Security number
- Enroll in an eligible degree or certificate program
- Complete a high school diploma or its equivalent
Students that aren’t citizens or don’t have a high school diploma aren’t eligible for federal financial aid.
Losing Financial Aid Eligibility
Even if you meet the requirements for federal student aid, it’s possible to lose your eligibility. A student may lose eligibility for financial aid due to the following reasons:
- You defaulted on existing student loans
- Your grades slipped below your college’s requirements for satisfactory academic progress
- You didn’t complete enough credits
Previously, students that were convicted of drug offenses weren’t eligible for federal financial aid. However, that’s no longer the case, and your conviction won’t affect your financial aid options.
In some cases, it’s possible to regain eligibility. If you aren’t eligible for aid, contact your college’s financial aid office to see if there is an appeal or reinstatement process to regain eligibility for financial aid.
How to Pay for School Without Financial Aid
If you’re not eligible for federal or state government financial aid, don’t get discouraged. There are other ways to pay for school without federal or state aid:
1. Apply for Scholarships and Grants
Even if you don’t qualify for federal financial aid, you may be eligible for grants and scholarships from other sources. Grants and scholarships are known as gift aid. Unlike student loans, they don’t have to be repaid.
Grants are usually based on financial need, while scholarships are based on your achievements. They can come from colleges, non-profit organizations, and private companies, ranging in value from $100 to the total cost of your tuition.
To find potential scholarships and grants, use the following tools:
2. Get a Part-Time Job
If you want to be a full-time student, you can work part-time to pay for some of your education. While working part-time won’t be enough to cover the entire cost, it can help cover some of your expenses.
Students often work on campus, but off-campus opportunities in retail or hospitality can also be a good idea. You can find jobs that work with your class schedule using search engines like SnagAJob.com or ZipRecruiter.
3. Attend School Part-Time
Alternatively, another way to pay for school is to attend college part-time and work full-time. With this approach, you may only take one or two classes a semester, and you may need to schedule your classes around work. It will take longer to complete your degree, but because you’re working full-time and earning a salary, you may be able to cover more of the cost of your paycheck.
4. Ask Your Employer About Tuition Reimbursement
If you are currently employed, talk to your human resources department about tuition reimbursement plans. Many businesses offer tuition reimbursement as part of their benefits packages; they’ll pay for a portion of your education expenses, up to an annual or lifetime maximum, as long as you’re enrolled in an approved program.
Utilizing a tuition reimbursement program can be a great way to earn your degree while reducing your education expenses.
5. Apply for Private Student Loans
If you’ve explored other financing options and still are researching how to pay for school without financial aid, another option is to apply for a private student loan. Private student loans have different eligibility requirements than federal loans, so you may be able to get a loan even if you’re not eligible for federal aid.
With private student loans, you can borrow up to the total cost of attendance for your program, and you can have up to 20 years to repay your loan.
Unlike federal loans, private student loans don’t require you to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Instead, you’ll complete an application with the individual lender you choose.
Private lenders do perform credit checks, and they typically have credit and income requirements you must meet to qualify for a loan. However, if you don’t meet their criteria, you may be eligible for a loan if you have a cosigner willing to apply for a loan with you.
Paying for College
When thinking about how to pay for school without financial aid, be sure to take scholarships, grants, employer programs, and your income into consideration. Those options can help reduce your education costs and lower the amount of money you need to borrow in student loans.
Once you know how much money you need to borrow, you can check your eligibility and view your loan options with ELFI’s Find My Rate tool.* It takes just a few minutes, and it doesn’t impact your credit score.