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Paying for College - Good Grades and Hard Work

Betsalel Cohen
UpdatedMar 31, 2019
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    5 min read
Key Takeaways:
  • Read the personal stories of young people preparing for college.
  • Beyond taking loans many students plan on getting top grades and working odd jobs.
  • Learn about different strategies to finance college.

Paying for College - Not Just Loans

College costs include tuition, housing, living expenses, and it isn't cheap.

While some very fortunate students have wealthy parents, or full academic or sports scholarships, most need to look for other means to pay for college. The first source for many is government grants and loans. However, many students look for ways of finishing school without a huge debt load.

Read real stories from students who applied to scholarship program. Here are stories about students who looked to combine hard working: good grades and part-time jobs. 

The Importance of Personal Stories values the firsthand experiences of people working hard to better their financial health.  They inspired us to start this blog, after reading the essays submitted to the Scholarship Contest.

We've chosen to protect the confidentiality of the people who shared their stores so that you will see their first names only.

Abigale - Good Grades, Sports, and On-Campus Job

I have been working towards paying for college pretty much my whole life. I have worked hard in school to get good grades, trained hard in softball to become an elite athlete, and explored many schools to find the one that best meets my educational, financial, and athletic goals. By keeping my grades above 3.5, obtaining a partial athletic scholarship, choosing an affordable college, working an on-campus job, applying for student loans, and hopefully qualifying for help by organizations such as yours; I hope to finish college with a degree in education and a manageable amount of student loans. I intend on completing the FAFSA application as soon as it is available in order to find out what grants and student loans that I may qualify for. I also hope to apply for as many outside scholarships as I can. The university I have chosen to attend offers the opportunity for students to work on campus to help pay down their tuition and I hope to take full advantage of that program as well. Outside of college, I intend on working summers and giving pitching lessons as often as I can manage between school, softball, and campus work. This should help build extra cash to help with my books and/or dorm room. It is really important to me that I don’t have to depend on my parents to pay for my college. My parents have been so supportive of me throughout my childhood, and I know they are always there for me, but as a young adult this is something I want to do not only for them but for me. To be independent and able to pay for my own college would be a dream come true.

Ema- Starting Early with AP Courses and Lab Work

My GPA is 4.6. I've taken 13 AP courses, and so my high school work will pay for my first year of college in that I don't have to take or pay for those 13 courses. Beyond that, I have three years of undergrad to pay for. I have saved over $5,000 babysitting, my parents have $10,000 per year for me, and my grandparents have another $10,000 per year. If I'm admitted my first pick, I will need to make up a significant difference in financial aid and scholarships. I am currently an intern at The Mayo Clinic and will graduate high school with a certification as a biotechnical assistant. My hope is to secure a job in a lab, as the hourly rate of pay for that job is higher than the typical rate for a college student with no marketable skill. I may also complete work-study. I have over 500 volunteer hours logged, and although it's a love of mine to work with children and adults with disabilities, I will likely table this work while I'm committed to leaving my university with little debt and a GPA that makes me competitive for med school.

Carson - Hard Work and Community Involvment

My name is Carson and I am an honor student completing my senior year l. I am looking forward to graduation and starting my college career. My parents work very hard but unfortunately they aren’t able to pay for all of my college expenses. They have instilled the importance of good grades and good work ethic. I have been working part time for over a year at a local restaurant and I have placed most of that money in savings, which I will use towards my college expenses. I say most, because I did chose to spend some of my money on a plane ticket to Haiti over the summer where I had the opportunity to work with an orphanage, something that made a lifelong impression and has spurred my interest in clinical research. I have also earned a Bright Futures Scholarship based on my ACT scores, GPA and community involvement. I will continue working while I’m in college to pay for my living expenses and what isn’t covered by my academic scholarship. My parents have discussed the fact that I will need to look at student loans to help bridge the gap, something that my older sister has also had to do (she is currently in college). The thought of going to college is exciting, the thought of paying for it, not so much. I will continue to work hard during my senior year, saving as much as possible to lessen the amount of needed loans.