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Great Ways to Fund a College Education

What's the best way to pay for college? Look into the options below to boost your own college-planning efforts.

Financial Aid

Take the time to explore potential aid options and don't assume your family isn't eligible. Aid includes grants, scholarships and work-study programs. In addition, loans for students and parents, such as the Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS), are offered at favorable rates and repayment schedules.

Almost half of undergraduate aid is in the form of federal educational loans. Your first step should be to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Then, read more on how financial aid works and determine your estimated expected family contribution (EFC) with our online EFC Calculator.

Scholarships

Your child doesn't have to be valedictorian or quarterback to receive a scholarship. Many are based on a particular institution, a field of study or career path, or even ethnic background. Corporations, foundations, professional and service organizations, and community groups offer scholarships, too. Check out our free Scholarship Search, read more about where to find scholarships, and then do some research of your own online or in the library. Talk to your child's high school or college counselor for help, and start as early as possible to improve your odds.

Tax Breaks

If you meet income requirements, you may be eligible for tax deductions and credits toward tuition, fees and student-loan interest. Tax credits operate more like rebates than discounts. They're not applied directly to tuition bills, but are instead made available when you file your taxes once you've paid tuition.

Employment in Public Service

In certain career fields, students may have their loans forgiven or tuition paid in exchange for committing to a period of work in a specified place upon graduation. College advisers can provide more information on these programs for students who are pursuing nursing, teaching and similar public-service fields.

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