According to Student Central, the average cost to attend IU for an Indiana resident is $24,418 a year and even more if you’re out of state. Now I don’t know many college students who have that kind of money laying around; but there are a few ways you can lessen the financial burden so that you won’t have to be a slave to Bursar payments each month.
Free money! Music to a broke college student’s ears. There are mainly two types of college scholarships: need based and merit based. Need based scholarships usually operate by determining your need according to your parents’ combined income. You may need tax forms or proof of financial difficulty to apply to these. Merit based scholarships are awarded on academic grounds – this is where you get the chance to brag about club involvement, sport ability, part-time jobs, and your grades. IU offers automatic scholarships that are awarded to incoming freshman who graduated high school with a high GPA and test scores. I would start with the IU scholarship page to see what else you can apply for – these are generally easier to get because you’re only competing against other IU students instead of students across the country. Once you have check out those resources, I recommend sites like Fastweb, Zinch, and Chegg for additional scholarship opportunities.
The FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and it is basically an offer for loans you can choose to receive from the government every year. You do have to pay these back, but you have some time. They don’t start asking for payments until 6 months after you graduate. However, you may score some nice grants like the Pell grant – which you don’t have to pay back as long as you do well in school.
Now is time to start saving! I recommend working as much as possible the summer before you come to IU in order to have some money saved. Once you start your semester you can attend the annual job fair at IU which typically happens during welcome week. Here you can find jobs at the library, dining halls, and the SRSC. You can even set up an interview while you’re at the fair and start working within a week.
This is typically a last resort. Bank loans have a lower interest rate than most other loans, but it’s best to explore all of your options before start burying yourself in debt.
I knew I wasn’t going to be able to afford IU, and it broke my heart because IU was my dream school. Thankfully, I received the Hudson and Holland scholarship last minute and happily registered to attend IU in the fall. I received $6,000 from the program my freshman year, but I was still struggling financially. Almost all of the money I made from work went to Bursar bills and I hated asking for money from my parents who are still paying off their own college debt. I began to look into some other options for current students to pay for school.
One option that many take is to become an RA. This is one of the highest paying jobs on the IU campus because you get free rent in a single dorm at IU (about $8,000 worth) the second highest meal point plan (about $3,650 worth) a laundry stipend, AND a $1,500 stipend which is considered your pay. To become an RA, make sure to attend some informational sessions and find some teachers or RPS staff who would write you recommendation letters. You have to take a 2 credit class in the spring and then participate in a group interview and an individual interview. If you don’t get the job your first time, you are always eligible to apply again next year.
You can also apply for scholarships through your school once you decide on your major. There are also some scholarships specifically for current students. I found the Cox Legacy scholarship – a scholarship for current students that are Indiana residents. This scholarship covers 75% of the total cost to attend IU as long as you hold a part time job that can pay for the rest of the 25%. That is SO much money! It’s also renewable until you finish your fourth year.
There are also going to be expenses you can expect to stumble upon when the year starts. These include textbooks (try going to TIS or renting from the bookstore for used books at lower prices), a parking pass if you decide to bring a car, health center fees if you get sick during your time as a student, and sorority/fraternity dues if you rush. With some of these tips, you have a good chance of finding extra money that will be able to help you out.