How to get paid to go to school

For most Americans who pursue a comfortable lifestyle, a college degree has become a necessity. In fact, according to a study by the Georgetown University Education and Workforce Center, the value of a bachelor’s degree in a lifetime is close to 3 million U.S. dollars. The question is how to get one without being overwhelmed by a large amount of student debt. Here are some ways to find grants, scholarships, and other tuition benefits to pay or at least reward you for getting a degree.

Key points

  • There are many sources of money for college, especially the federal government’s student aid program.
  • You may also be eligible for financial assistance from your employer or veteran.
  • Scholarships and grants represent “free” money, and loans must eventually be repaid.

Corporate tuition reimbursement

If your employer provides tuition reimbursement as part of their benefit plan, then taking advantage of this benefit may be a direct way to get tuition.

The tuition reimbursement policies vary. Some employers pay for any degree, while others only pay for education related to their business. Many companies set annual limits on the tuition they will reimburse, or require employees to maintain a certain grade point average to qualify.

If you are looking for a job but want to go to school in the near future, please review the educational benefits of potential employers as part of your job search.

As an added benefit, if your employer has an educational assistance program that complies with the IRS, the first $5,250 you receive is not included in your taxable income. However, everything else is taxable.

Military tuition benefits

Higher education benefits and on-the-job training are among the attractions of serving in the US military.

These are some of the benefits available as of 2020:

  • Military tuition assistance. The program pays $4,500 per year to eligible recipients. This may include tuition, required fees, books and course materials. Each branch of the military has its own application form and rules.
  • GI Act. Since the implementation of the Second World War, the Geographical Indications Act has undergone several revisions. Depending on the length of service, active and reserve soldiers (MGIB-SR) or post 9/11 Geographical Indications Act. Both provide educational assistance for up to 36 months, but they differ in other aspects, including the amount paid. For example, MGIB-AD will pay up to $2,122 per month to full-time students in the 2020 academic year, while Post-9/11 GI Bill will pay full tuition and fees for in-state students in public colleges and universities, private institutions up to 25,162.14 per year Dollar. These payment rates are set by Congress and change every year. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides a useful comparison chart and payout rate on its website.
  • Educational assistance for survivors and their families. The program is administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, which provides college funding and other assistance to the families of some veterans.

These are not the only benefits you may be eligible for. The US government website USA.gov has this “educational benefits for service personnel, veterans and their families” list.

University financial aid

Most colleges and universities have financial aid programs, and in some cases, they may pay up to 100% of the cost.

Although public universities have lower tuition fees, some private and liberal arts schools with large endowments offer more generous financial aid programs. For example, Princeton University is one of the few schools that uses grants (rather than loans) to cover all the needs of all admitted undergraduates in need of financial assistance. It is worth checking any school you are interested in to understand its policies.

To receive need-based grants and university scholarships, you need to fill out the Federal Government’s Free Federal Student Aid Application Form (FAFSA). Based on your income, assets, and other factors, it will calculate how much you should be able to pay for college with your own resources.

The university will then determine how much aid you are eligible for in the form of grants, scholarships, loans, and paid work-study jobs. In most cases, grants and scholarships are money you never have to pay back. The loan will eventually have to be repaid. State, local, and private scholarship programs may also use the information on your FAFSA to determine your eligibility, although some require you to fill out a separate application.

Community College Education

If you are considering studying for a two-year associate degree at a community college, you only need to submit a FAFSA form each year to receive a grant to cover all or most of your tuition.

The most commonly received grant is the Federal Pell grant, which provides up to $6,345 in grants to full-time students as of the 2020-2021 school year. Although Pell grants are not limited to community colleges, they can pay for full-time admission to most community college degree programs (and in many four-year programs, they have little effect). Eligible students who work part-time and attend community colleges may be eligible for Pell grants on a pro rata basis.

In recent years, some cities and states have offered free tuition for local residents in community colleges, and some politicians have called for a nationwide promotion. In the meantime, it is worth calling the community college nearest you to find out its current charging status (if any).

Scholarships and grants for excellence and minorities

Many universities offer merit scholarships to attract outstanding students. They may also provide scholarships or grants for athletes or other students with special talents. Scholarships and grants may also be awarded to students who are members of minority groups who are underrepresented in the university. Full scholarships are very rare, but this kind of assistance can help pay a large portion of college expenses.

The best way to learn about grants and scholarships is through high school or college counselors or other resources provided by your school.

You can also use sites such as CareerOneStop sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor to conduct your own research. The website provides a wealth of information about professional apprenticeships, certifications and internships, and university aid programs. The website of a higher education institution in your state may also be useful.

The federal government and many states provide tax credits or deductions to pay for some of your college expenses.

University tax relief

If you end up having to pay for college, you may get at least part of the money back through tax relief. At the federal level, there is an American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) worth up to $2,500 and a Lifelong Learning Credit (LLC) worth up to $2,000. Regardless of whether you itemize the deductions, student loan interest up to $2,500 can be deducted as an income adjustment.

Your state may also provide some form of tax relief or credit.

If one wants to be paid to go to school, where should one start searching?

The first thing to look at is your employer. If your employer provides tuition reimbursement as part of their benefit plan, then taking advantage of this benefit may be a direct way to get tuition.

Can the U.S. military get paid during school?

Higher education benefits and on-the-job training are among the attractions of serving in the US military. Programs such as military tuition assistance, the GI Act, and educational assistance for survivors and families may help pay for college expenses.

What are the precautions for corporate tuition reimbursement?

Policies vary from company to company. Some employers pay for any degree, while others only pay for education related to their business. Many companies set annual limits on the tuition they will reimburse, or require employees to maintain a certain grade point average to qualify. If you are looking for a job but want to go to school in the near future, please review the educational benefits of potential employers as part of your job search.

Bottom line

As the cost of college education soars as the value of education continues to grow, it is crucial to find a way to pay without being overwhelmed by debt. And be warned: be skeptical of companies or websites that promise to help you find scholarships in exchange for fees. Many are outright scams, and very few people can do things for you that you can’t do for free.

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