If you’re ready to embark on your college adventure, you need to handle the cost first. It’s okay to wonder how to pay for college. We’re here to help. Financing your education can be tedious, but once it’s taken care of, you can focus on learning and getting yourself closer to your dream job.

FAFSA

If you can pay your entire tuition out of pocket, then the whole process is easy. Not all of us have that option, however. First, you need to complete your FAFSA. This is the form that determines your eligibility for aid, and it’s easier to fill out than you might think. It only takes about four minutes to complete and could change your future at college. All you need is your personal info, your family info, and your financial info.

After your FAFSA is sent off, you will get a report back detailing how much federal aid you can receive. This will depend on a few things like cost of admission for your chosen college and your expected family contribution. Your maximum limit will always be the cost of admission minus your expected family contribution.

Additional Financial Aid Help

Aside from FAFSA, there are numerous scholarships and grants you can apply for. Be sure to research as many as possible. Your personal situation may uniquely qualify you for some of the specialty grants out there. Military service is also an option for most people. In fact, one of the main reasons people join the military is for college benefits. If that doesn’t sound like the route for you, you can always enroll in a work-study program. These programs allow you to work a part-time position to help pay your tuition costs. An added benefit is that it’s almost always related to your field of study, so you get some useful experience.

If all else fails, you can take out a student loan. Be wary, however, as student loans can be a huge financial burden after you finish college. Be extra careful if you take a loan from a private lender because they don’t come with legally mandated flexible repayment options like federal loans do. No matter which option you pick, the most important thing is planning ahead. Plan out how to pay for college, and you can focus on what matters most, your education.