There are a lot of people out there that will give you advice on how to save for college but what if it’s too late and you need help on how to pay for college? I paid my own way through college. I had to work a full-time job while I attended school. It wasn’t easy but I don’t think it’s supposed to be.
From the beginning I knew I wanted a degree from an accredited university. Technical schools and online colleges were never an option for me. I found the best route for me was to start at a community college and then transfer to a four year institution. The cost of community college was roughly half that of a four year college. The downside of this was that I had to transfer institutions half way into my education. It was necessary for me to choose my major early so I could make sure I would have the necessary credits when I transferred into the University of Central Florida .
The Pell Grant was responsible for picking up about half of my education costs. The Pell Grant is a federal need-based grant that all college students can apply for. Aside from Federal grants there are also many state grants. I was also eligible for the Florida Student Assistance Grant, which is a need-based grant for Florida Residents. The cost of classes at UCF was about $500 per class when I attended. My grants averaged about $1,200 per semester. If I took three classes each semester, that left me with paying only $300 per semester for a great education.
During the time I was enrolled in college I worked as waiter and a bartender. These jobs were suitable because they allowed for flexible schedules. The best times to make money for those occupations were the weekend days. There is no class on the weekends, so I was free to work as much as a could. I was working between 40 and 50 hours a week. I scheduled most of my classes during the early morning or as online classes. Working full time and going to school part time doesn’t leave much time for sleep and hobbies but I was driven to finish and in the end it was well worth the effort.
During my third year of my college career my wife and I were blessed with our first daughter. When she was born I took the following semester off of school so I could be there to help my wife with the new baby. The next semester I enrolled in three online classes. Distance learning has become common at every level of education. For people like me who have career and family responsibilities, online learning is a valuable tool. I continued to take as many online classes as I could so I could spend more time with my daughter when I wasn’t working. There were a few classes that were only offered on campus, but those classes were the high level classes that I took just before graduation. I remember a couple tough semesters when I had to work late and get up for school early the next morning but my wife was on-board with what I was working for.
Many universities make it easier than ever to obtain an education. Fully accredited colleges across the country offer online learning programs that can be wonderful for students who work full-time. It is difficult to maintain a full-time job, a family and a college career but hard work made me appreciate my degree that much more when I graduated.
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