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3 Ways to Fund Your Degree

Earning a college degree can open doors to in-demand job opportunities, higher earning potential and personal growth. When you consider these benefits, it's easy to see why higher education is still worth the investment​. However, figuring out the best way to pay for college can be a little complicated.

Not sure where to start? Let's look at three ways to fund the dream of higher education:

1. ​Financial Aid

When funding your college education, financial aid is the first place to start. Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form is necessary to apply for federal student aid such as federal grants, work-study funds and loans. Your FAFSA information may also be used to determine your eligibility for need-based financial aid available from your state or the school.

2. Merit-Based Scholarships and Awards

In addition to financial aid programs, many schools, businesses, organizations, and communities offer merit-based scholarships based on students' academic achievements, service work and extracurricular activities. Research local, regional and national scholarships and apply early for the best chance at receiving free money for college.

Remember — you don't need to pay to win a scholarship. If you're asked for your banking information or to send funds for an unexpected scholarship, it's a scam.

3. Federal and Private Student Loans

Most college students borrow to cover the cost of higher education, through federal student loans, private student loans or a combination of the two.

If you need to borrow funds for college, it's smart to start with federal student loans. These loans are available to students and parents and provide unique benefits, including a fixed interest rate that's often lower than private student loans. Each year, 30 to 40 percent of all undergraduate students accept federal student loans.

However, even after federal student loans, fina​​ncial aid and scholarships have been applied, college funding gaps may remain for tuition, textbooks, fees and housing. Private student loans can help fill those gaps while offering flexible repayment terms and a lower interest rate compared to other types of loans or lines of credit.

Ready to Explore Options to Pay for College?

At Wright-Patt Credit Union (WPCU), we understand how confusing it can be to navigate higher education financing. That's why we provide free student lending financial learning classes designed to demystify the process and help students and families plan, prepare and pay for college with confidence.

Questions about completing your FAFSA, interpreting your award letter or deciphering financial aid lingo? Schedule an appointment with our College Counselor for a personalized one-on-one consultation.​