How To Pay For School: A Beginner’s Guide To Financial Aid And Scholarships

by Yasmin Lalani | In Academic Advising, Financial Empowerment | 19 April 2016 | Updated on: April 19th, 2016

Whether you are in the beginning stages of a college search or well underway in your academic pursuits, it’s always a good idea to think about how you can cut down your college tuition costs. While it may take a little planning and time on your part, your future self will thank you when you have less student loan debt!

Read on – we’ve outlined the best ways to pay for college below.

MPOWER Pro-tip 1

Make the most of what you save in tuition costs. Use the extra money to pay off a student loan, to have more cushion in your savings account, or to start investing. One of our favorite investing platforms is WiseBanyan – a free financial advisor that helps maximize your wealth. Even if you still have debt, saving a little money for big goals, like retirement, as early as possible can have a huge impact on your future.


Scholarships are typically awarded by universities or outside institutions based on community involvement or activities, academic merit, or athletic achievement. Receiving scholarships can significantly cut down on college costs, as they do not need to be repaid.

Here are the basics:

  • The scholarship application process often varies. It’s important to check with your school and outside institutions for their specific application procedures.
  • Your school may award you with a scholarship when you receive your initial acceptance package or may offer it at a later semester.

MPOWER Pro-tip 2

Stay on top of scholarship opportunities by using online tools such as Fastweb or Scholly.

MPOWER Pro-tip 3

Be sure to remain eligible for the scholarships provided to you by meeting academic and/or athletic requirements.

MPOWER Pro-tip 4

Small scholarships add up! Don’t overlook scholarships that only provide a few hundred or thousand dollars. They could pay for your food or books for a year, cutting your overall costs significantly.


The world of financial aid can be a difficult one to navigate – but if you are an eligible student, it’s well worth your time to submit the free financial aid application.

Here are the basics:

  • To earn financial aid, you need to be an eligible student. Read more here to understand financial aid requirements.
  • In order to apply, you must fill out and submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • Your school’s financial aid office will be able to help guide you through the application process.
  • Financial aid comes in three forms: work study, grants, and loans.
    1. Work study is funding you receive when you hold a part-time job affiliated with your university while taking classes.
    2. Grants provide money that does not need to be repaid.
    3. Loans do need to be repaid, usually with interest.

MPOWER Pro-tip 5

Read up on colleges with the most financial aid. They may be schools worth looking into.

MPOWER Pro-tip 6

Stay on top of FAFSA deadlines to receive the maximum amount of aid.


Private student loans are a helpful way to cover the remaining portion of tuition and other school-related expenses after you have exhausted your scholarships and financial aid options. Be sure to consider all variables of private student loans: in-school payments vs. deferred payments; no co-signer needed vs. U.S. co-signer needed; fixed interest rates vs. variable rates.

Consider your options so you can find a loan that is best suited for your needs. MPOWER loans do not require a co-signer or a credit score and have a fixed interest rate for the life of the loan. We provide our borrowers with free financial literacy courses and personal career counseling. MPOWER was founded by professionals who struggled to pay for school themselves – so we know that financing your education can be tough. The whole MPOWER team is committed to helping you on your path to success!

Visit our Borrow page to learn more.

Author: View all post by Yasmin Lalani

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