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How to Find Last Minute Funding for College

You completed the FAFSA. You received scholarships through your high school. You and your parents reviewed your financial aid award letter from your college, and decided to take out federal student loans to pay for college. Now your tuition bill is due, and there’s still a remaining balance – what do you do?

Here are a few suggestions for last minute ways to foot the bill:

Cut Unnecessary Costs

Look at ways to reduce any optional costs. Do you really need the most expensive campus dining plan? Can you survive without a car and save on parking? It all adds up. You could save thousands of dollars a year by making a few small adjustments.

Payment Plans

Contact your school’s financial aid office to see what options you might have for tuition payments. Keep in mind that you may have to pay an enrollment or management fee for this service, but it could be worth it if you need more time to come up with extra money.

Work for It

While school should be your number one priority, think about getting a part-time job. Most colleges employ students on campus, and stores and restaurants nearby are used to working around students’ schedules. The money you make could go toward books, housing, or a payment plan if you’ve set one up.

Late Deadline Scholarships

While most scholarships are awarded in the spring, there may be some that are still available and have a later deadline. Search online or with local community organizations to see if there is unclaimed money available. Just be sure to watch for these red flags outlined by U.S. News:

  • Phony organizations: The scholarship site should have an About Us page, giving the name of the business or nonprofit offering the award. Do a quick web search to make sure the business or nonprofit exists and has made recent updates to the website.
  • No clear criteria for how entries will be judged: If the scholarship website doesn’t outline the factors that evaluators will consider, the scholarship could be phony.
  • Requests financial information: Most legitimate scholarship organizations have access to information from the FAFSA. That means you shouldn’t have to provide Social Security numbers, salaries and other personal information for yourself or your parents.
  • Absence of clear privacy policies: Before applying for a scholarship, read the organization’s privacy policy on the website. Make sure it states definitively that it won’t sell information you provide.

Consider Private Student Loans

Private student loans like those offered by credit unions were developed for this exact situation. Once you’ve exhausted all other means of financial aid and payment options, a private student loan can help cover the balance that’s left.

When you’re comparing loans, look at interest rates, repayment terms, and fees to make sure you’re selecting the best option for your situation. 

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*APR = Annual Percentage Rate

In order to apply for a loan, you must first pick an individual credit union from which you wish to borrow. You can apply for the loan without being a member of the credit union you select, but you will need to become a member of that credit union in order to receive a funded loan. Therefore, it's important that you select a credit union that you will be eligible to join. Credit union membership requirements can include where you live, work, or attend school. Results are based on membership criteria provided by individual credit unions and do not imply a guarantee regarding accuracy or eligibility to join the listed credit union(s).

Calculations are based on the lowest possible rate and available repayment terms per lender. Rate estimates are based on credit information entered by the user and will not impact your credit. During the application process, a hard credit inquiry will be performed to provide exact rate information. Repayment calculations assume immediate full repayment. View the full range of rates and terms by visiting your credit union's website using links listed for each credit union above.

Using the free student loan refinance calculator does not constitute an offer to receive a loan and will not solicit a loan offer. Any payments and savings will depend on the actual amounts for which you are approved, should you choose to apply. This calculator is provided for educational purposes only and should not be relied upon as financial advice. Always consult your credit union or financial advisor when making your decision.

IMPORTANT NOTICE for refinance borrowers: By refinancing federal student loans, you may lose certain borrower benefits from your original loans. These may include interest rate discounts, principal rebates, or some cancellation benefits that can significantly reduce the cost of repaying your loans. Please review this important disclosure for more information.

Your actual rate within the range stated will be disclosed upon approval. Student borrowers may apply with a creditworthy cosigner which may result in a better chance of approval and/or interest rate.