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We encourage you to take advantage of grants, scholarships, family contributions, savings and wages before taking out student loans to pay for college.

Sources of Free Money

When it comes to paying for college, free money in the form of grants and scholarships is best since you do not have to pay it back.

Grants and Scholarships

There are thousands of grants and scholarships available through colleges and universities, federal and state governments and public and private organizations. Grants are a type of financial aid from the federal government, your state government or your school. Scholarships are typically awarded by schools and private organizations. There are a variety of grants and scholarships, and not all of them are need-based.

Many schools automatically consider you for grants and scholarships when you apply for admission. For those not offered by your school, you can visit:

  • Discover Student Loans Free Scholarship Search is a fast and easy way to search 3 million scholarships worth more than $18 billion. Our scholarship database is updated daily. No registration required.

You can also visit:

Family Contributions and Savings Plans

Your family may be able to help you pay for college. Education Saving Plans, such as 529 Plans or Coverdell Education Savings Accounts, are investment trust accounts, often from pre-tax contributions, specifically for college costs. Other savings can include money set aside in traditional savings accounts, certificates of deposit and money market accounts.


The Federal Work-Study Program is a part-time employment program funded by the government that allows students to earn money that can be used to help pay for college. Money earned from other part- or full-time employment can also be used toward college expenses.

Some employers offer tuition reimbursement that will help pay for a portion of your tuition and books. Tuition reimbursement benefits vary by employer, so it is important to check the details to ensure you can take full advantage of them.

Did You Know?

Once you exhaust free money, family contributions, savings and wages, consider federal and private student loans. Student loans are designed to pick up where grants, scholarships and other types of financial aid leave off.

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