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Besides scholarships, how can I pay for college?

QUESTION: Is there any way that I can get financial aid? My parents make too much money. I know that you are going to say apply for some scholarships, but it is much easier said than done. I only have a 2.5 GPA and 18 on the ACT. I'm pretty sure that I can get into my first choice college, but the problem is that I don't want to stay at home. I want to live on campus, but that means my parents will have to pay room and board. Signed, Want Independence

Dear Want Independence: You're right to think that your college experience will be very different if you live on campus or if you live at home. On campus, you'll probably be more independent and get more involved in student life.

The first step toward independence and getting financial aid is applying. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and any other forms required by the colleges to apply. Your parents' income may disqualify you from receiving a grant or work-study, but you may be eligible for a loan. The PLUS loan may also be a good choice since it is not based on income.

Working can also help you pay for your living expenses. Check with the colleges' student employment office to see what opportunities there are and how well they pay.

Because you want to live away from home, you can trim your living expenses by finding roommates. Living off campus with roommates may be an economical alternative to living on campus.

And, you are correct. We also recommend that you apply for scholarships. There are plenty of awards based on non-academic achievements in areas like public service and leadership. It takes work, but scholarships can help you toward living on your own.

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Gen & Kelly Tanabe

Gen and Kelly Tanabe are the founders of SuperCollege and the award-winning authors of 11 books on college admission, financial aid and scholarships. Together they were accepted to all of the Ivy League colleges and won more than $100,000 in merit-based scholarships to graduate from Harvard debt-free.