How to pay for college without scholarships?

Even without scholarships, most students receive financial aid for their college education. So, if you’re worried about how to pay for college without a scholarship, don’t be.

These days, there are several ways to go about getting free money for your education. You just have to know where to look.

Your starting point should always be the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), which qualifies you for both need-based and merit-based aid. 

Let’s take a look at some additional ways to get your education paid for.


The FAFSA® qualifies you for both federal and state grants, and school-based scholarships and grants. You can read about grants here

Work-Study Jobs

Most major colleges offer work-study opportunities for eligible students. Typically, that means you’ll spend some free time working at the school to earn money for your education. Though you do have to work for it, you’re not taxed like other full-time jobs. 

Start at Community College

If you go to an in-state community college, your education will come at a much lower cost. That means you can get 2-years of school done at a lower price. Any grants or scholarships you get will pay off even more at community college than at a four-year school. 

Ask Family For Money

If you’re lucky enough to have a family that can support you throughout your education, lean on them. If you borrow or are gifted money, that’s less than you’d have to take out in student loans. 

Take Out Student Loans

As a last resort, you can always take out student loans. Whether you decided to take federal or private student loans, they can help give you a little extra cushion financially. 

Though you do have to pay student loans back, many students end up taking them out. Using the above methods and scholarships can help you avoid taking out more than you have to. 

As always, start your financial aid search with the FAFSA®. From there, you’ll get an idea of how much financial aid is coming your way and can make appropriate decisions.