10 Financial Tips to Help You Afford College

Trill or Not Trill?

what are those

Nothing can be scarier than receiving your financial aid award letter. This information can make or break your final decision on attending your dream school. Financial aid is not so gentle to everyone. Many households don’t make the cut for free money but of course everybody can’t afford college. You do not want to end up with 100k in debt after all is said and done while making 30-40k a year. That’s no fun.

“Seven in 10 seniors (69%) who graduated from public and nonprofit colleges in 2013 had student loan debt, with an average of $28,400 per borrower. This represents a two percent increase from the average debt of 2012 public and nonprofit graduates.” (According to the Institute for College Access and Success).

So in honor of the most popular Viral video we call this “What Are Those?”

Here are THOSE 10 tips

1. Fafsa- is the largest provider of student financial aid in the country. Please note this is a free application. Anybody looking to charge you for this information is a private company. Stay away. (Official website Fafsa.gov) You do not have to pay when completing this form. The results of this form is good for every institute you apply too.

2. Local Scholarships – Many government officials and local organizations recognize students need money for college. Check with your guidance office to find a list of scholarships.  Some requirements are based simply on culture, fair to good GPAs and even living location.  It doesn’t hurt to ask. I was able to receive over 10 local scholarships on top of the merit based scholarship during my time in college. My merit based scholarship took care of my tuition and the local scholarship became a check for me to keep. I was technically getting paid to attend college.

3. Articulation Agreement Program – This is a legal document that’s produced by two educational entities to form a pathway into future admittance. For example in my position as Assistant to the Dean I have helped create partnerships and articulation agreements for a few high schools. Students can earn up to 18 college level credits before high school. The best part is some districts pay for each class or it can be discounted up to 70-80% of the college’s regular cost. Check with your guidance counselor to see if articulation programs are available with colleges and universities.

4. Merit based scholarships– I’ll make this easy. Free money given to students from the institute they decide to attend. Yup, that sums it up. The requirements are typically based on grades, standardized test and high school curriculum.  For every school you apply to please ask the minimum requirement for their merit based scholarships.

5.  Clep Test – are you fluent in a second language?  If so this test could help you tremendously with cost. These tests can be useful for students who have obtained knowledge outside of the classroom. This knowledge can be from home schooling, cultural/language, or job experience. You can take the Clep exam for as low as $80 and earn college credits. That’s a major discount!

6. AP exam – colleges use AP exams to exempt students from taking introductory courses. Imagine being exempt from classes that can cost thousands during your attendance.

7. Community College – Don’t let them fool you, this is not the 13th grade. In all honesty community college could be the best financial fit. Good grades or not students can attend this institute as a stepping block. For those students with good grades, scholarships and free tuition will be available. For the student who isn’t quite prepared this can be like a minor league system to help build your academic confidence. In many states an associates degree can lead to all credits being transferred to a partnered 4 year institution. They’re also dual agreement programs within community college, where you can pay community college rates for you associates and bachelors degrees.  Your associates degree will be from the 2 year school while your bachelors will say the partnering 4 year school all for the same low rate. 13th grade is not that bad after all.

8. Your household income can’t be a secret-The convo may seem taboo with parents but start looking at your combined salary around 7-8th grade. This is a joint effort please do not wait until your child’s senior year to start planning.  If you look early, start finding other sources of income. Make sure your child hits high school aiming for 3.5 or higher. 7th grade start prepping for standardized testing. Look into programs like TRIO or GEAR UP that gives your child college experience early. Map out the best high schools or classes that can give your child they advantage and chances at free money.

9. Speak up – Tell everyone your next steps confidently. You never know a person’s background or possible opportunities. Many people are active as alumni of major schools. These large institutions tend to have funds and scholarships through their alumni program. Take advantage. Special thanks to Woman’s scholarship club, Martin Luther King scholarship committee, Strike Merchants and many others who believed in me by providing scholarships as low as $1000.

10. Grants– No long definition. This is free money where you do not need to pay back.  Pell grants unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid. Federal Pell Grants are usually awarded only to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor’s or a professional degree Tag Grant – click here for full details. http://www.hesaa.org/Documents/TAG_program.pdf. (NJ only)



Lenny Williams is one of today’s most gifted leaders in inspiring youth and countless individuals to pursue their career and educational dreams. As an 
educator and speaker, his mission is to be a voice to reach generations and a reminder that greatness can be achieved against all odds.To get more 
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Lenny A. Williams, MBA (designbylaw@gmail.com)