It’s no secret that college can get expensive. Course fees, textbooks, meal plan, and residence-life can add up quickly—making that total semester cost a truly intimidating number.

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Don’t let the price tag scare you because attending a university is a fundamental investment in your future. The knowledge and skills you learn while pursuing higher education are invaluable when entering the job market.

There’s always a way to pay. I’ve compiled resources to assist you in any college financial endeavors.

Financial Aid & FAFSA

The most well-known form of monetary assistance for tuition is financial aid. For WSU, financial aid is awarded every semester depending on the student’s FAFSA. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is what you submit for all federal and state financial aid. You will need to resubmit it every school year you plan you use financial aid.

If you have any questions about FAFSA, contact the WSU Financial Aid Office at financialaid@winona.edu or 507.457.5090. They’re open Monday – Friday from 7:30am-4:30pm.

Scholarships

Scholarships come in all shapes and sizes—from all different places. Essentially, it’s completing an assignment or submitting an application for free money.

WSU offers many scholarship opportunities for students. These include the Presidential Honor Scholarships (Renewable), which are based on your high school GPA, class rank, and ACT score, or the First Year Academic Awards (Non-renewable), based on the same criteria.

Private scholarships are also a viable option for most students. For example, I received scholarship money from my elementary school for writing an essay and presenting to current elementary students.

Keep applying for scholarships–even after you get to college– because it’s a chance to chip away at your tuition. Many people forget that scholarships exist specifically for undergraduates in all academic fields. Plus, some scholarships don’t even get any applicants!

Put your hard work to good use and take advantage of this opportunity to receive free money

Loans

When I first came to WSU, loans were the scariest part of financial aid. They seemed like this dark mass looming over me to suck me into thousands of dollars in debt once I graduate. In truth, loans are much more manageable and a lot less formidable than I originally perceived.

You’ll see on financial aid statements the words “unsubsidized” and “subsidized” loans. I had no idea what either of those meant as a freshman. Basically, the difference comes down to who pays for interest on each loan. For subsidized loans, the federal government pays the interest while the student is in college, but interest begins accumulating for unsubsidized loans as soon as the loan is taken out.

Pro-Tip: My mother set up a monthly direct withdrawal from my checking account to help pay off my unsubsidized loan. I now have a much better handle on chipping away at my loan with this payment in place. Don’t wait to have the loan hit you in the face at graduation.

Student Jobs

Plus, there is the option to get a job to help cover day-to-day living costs. There are many work study and student help jobs on campus.

You could work as a front desk assistant in the residence halls, as a tech support staff in IT, a graphic designer for the communications team– really so many options to build your skills and work experience.

Of course, there’s also plenty of local business in Winona who hire students throughout the year.

Paying for college isn’t as difficult as it seems. There are people and organizations to support your academic career.

Use the resources available to you and ask for help whenever you need it.

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Breanna McGeorge

Breanna McGregor is from Sussex, Wisconsin and enjoys writing, reading and drawing. She graduated in Fall 2018 with a degree in English Writing and a Literature and Language Minor.