Tuesday, February 18, 2014

An Overlooked Way to Fund College

an overlooked way to fund college

 I recently stumbled across an overlooked way to fund college. 

 I heard two different people comment, "My employer would have paid for me to attend college, but at the time, I didn't see a need for a college degree."  Both of these people now wish they had taken advantage of that often overlooked way to fund college.

Why should your student explore every funding option available?

• Approximately one-third of recent grads, if they could do it all again, would have pursued more scholarships or financial aid options, pursued a major that would have led to a higher paying job, or gotten a job while in college and started saving earlier. (Source: Accounting Principals)

The cost of college has doubled in the last 10 years and the price continues to increase.
Additionally, while scholarships are still available, the increasing cost of tuition leaves students with a large sum to pay.

I received an email from a college  that included this excerpt:

Generous aid. We offer an exceptional financial aid program and meet 100 percent of every student's demonstrated need, and our students graduate with debt levels among the lowest in the country. In 2013-2014, the average cost to attend Williams for families who receive financial aid is $15,838.

While this college seems to be bragging about their COA (cost of attendance), if students take out a loan to attend this private school, they will still be over $60,000 in debt when they graduate. That’s a huge debt for a college grad to have.

The average loan amount for students attending a public university is around $25,000.  Even though this is considerably less than the private school example, it is still a large debt.

While college is not the best option for everyone, many jobs still require a college degree.

However, it doesn’t make sense to be deep in debt after 4 years of college. And, yes, I consider even $25,000 to be deep in debt for someone just starting their career.

What’s a student to do?

One option would be to work for a company that provides tuition assistance to employees. Some companies provide this perk to part time employees, others only to full time employees.

Companies pay differing percentages of tuition and some only pay for certain degree plans.  Be sure to check the benefits the company lists.

Even though it would most likely take a person longer to get a degree this way, not only would it be possible to be debt-free when they were finished, but they would also be earning money and gaining work experience.

Doing a quick search, I found several lists of companies that offer tuition assistance (or did when the article was written).


Fortune 500 Companies will pay for college.  

  Jobs that help with college tuition.

  Companies that help employees pay for college.

  10 Companies that pay tuition reimbursement.

There are duplicates among the lists and they are not comprehensive, but it will give you a good idea of what kinds of companies might offer tuition assistance as a benefit.

For example, I looked up Murphy USA’s job listings and requirements for tuition assistance.  Part time employees working at least 20 hours per week qualify for tuition assistance.  Several jobs were posted for ‘cashier’, which is an entry level job that could be obtained by a high school graduate.

It appears to me that most of the companies fall into general categories: technology, medical, gas and oil, college/university, and delivery companies.  

This is a very viable option for paying for a college education.  Have your student research companies in their field of interest.  They may find one that has tuition assistance as a benefit. 

A check of  websites of several companies not on this list showed tuition assistance as a benefit.

It is much better to finish college as debt-free as possible, even if it takes a little longer.

Did you, or someone you know, pay for college this way?

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