workstudy Strategies to help you afford a Christian college

Affording a Christian college or university can be daunting when you look at the bottom line: the cost. According to a US News and World Report for the 2015-16 school year, the average private institution charged $32,599 for tuition and fees. So how do families afford this? Usually it happens through a combination of strategies. Before you rule out a Christian college or university, consider looking into a variety of options that make Christian education possible.

1. Apply for every scholarship you can
Consider this: You’re more likely to get a scholarship in a small school than a big one. Although scholarships are competitive no matter where you go, a smaller school means less competition. The chance of getting some financial help is likely. According to a study from the National Association of College and University Business Officers, “Nearly 90 percent of freshmen at private universities earned some institutional grant or scholarship aid in 2014-2015.”

Many students seek out scholarships for academics and sports, but the savvy student will look for smaller scholarships in specific departments. So whether you’re planning on majoring in art, education or business, check to see what’s available at your school.

2. Consider campus jobs
Students can pursue the option of working on campus or off campus. Mia, a graduate of Taylor University, says she was able to afford college by working and saving over several years. “I had worked and saved throughout high school and I worked in a factory in the summers when I was home from college. I also usually had jobs on campus.”

With a combination of approaches—including on or off campus jobs—Christian education can be affordable. Another bonus: Jobs are a great opportunity to build a résumé at the same time.

3. Seek out community resources
Start with your high school guidance counselor and ask what scholarships are available from local clubs, organizations or businesses. Your local chamber may have a list of scholarships and private donors are an option too. Joy, another Christian college graduate, says “I was able to attend through the financial gift of a generous donor, working an on campus job, and living on a budget.” With a variety of approaches and some creativity, attending a Christian college is possible.

4. Be responsible with loans
No one wants to talk about loans, but that’s usually a reality for students. The key is taking out loans responsibly, in a way that doesn’t negatively impact your life after graduation. Before signing, be sure you understand all the terms of the loan and only take out what you need.

Help is out there, but it takes some time to research and pursue each option. Often a combination of financial strategies is what makes a Christian education possible. In the end, it will be worth the effort of finding financial help.

Sara Ward has a master’s degree in educational psychology and currently writes articles for businesses, educational groups and nonprofits across the web. She also writes a personal blog on faith, adoption and loss at poetsandsaints.com