Student loans 10 January 2023

Student Loan Alternatives

Explore affordable alternatives to student loans and take control of your college expenses. Find grants, scholarships, work-study programs and more!

Most students choose student loans as a way to enroll in or finish college. It is the most popular way to finance post-secondary education, especially when combined with the help of federal loan servicers to help students manage the loan. In the event that getting a student loan is not an option, student loan alternatives are also available as another way to help cover the costs of college without taking on the burden of debt. These alternatives include grants and scholarships, work-study programs, and tuition payment plans offered by many universities.

Additionally, you may opt to take on part-time jobs to cover your college expenses or seek out non-traditional forms of financing such as micro loans and loan companies that provide flexible terms. Exploring these alternatives can help you make a more informed decision when it comes to covering the cost of your education. 

1. Scholarships

Scholarships are one of the most widely available alternatives to student loans. If accumulating debt is one of your biggest concerns, then it’s worth understanding exactly how a student loan is different from a scholarship to see which option is best for your situation. Scholarships come in two main forms: public and private. Public scholarships are provided by the government, while private scholarships can be offered by companies, organizations, foundations, or even individuals. Although eligibility requirements for public scholarships tend to be very strict, there are often more options available for private scholarships and the competition is generally lower. Private scholarships may also be more generous than public ones, allowing you to cover a larger portion of your college expenses. 

2. Private & Federal Grants as Student Loan Alternatives

Grants are another great student loan alternative. Grants can be either private or federal, depending on the source of funding. Private grants are awarded by companies, organizations, and other entities that have a specific mission or purpose in mind. Federal grants, on the other hand, come from the government and may be available for students who demonstrate financial need. Unlike student loans, grants do not have to be repaid, making them an attractive option for students who need help paying for college. Although the competition for grants can be quite fierce, taking the time to research and apply for these types of funds is well worth it. 

3. Work-Study Programs

Work-study programs are also a good option to finance college without taking out a loan. Through work-study programs, you gain valuable work experience while earning money to help cover your college expenses. These programs often require students to work part-time in exchange for a portion of their tuition costs or other educational benefits such as textbooks or supplies. Work-study programs are usually sponsored by universities or the government, so it’s important to do your research to find out which opportunities may be available to you. With a little bit of effort and dedication, work-study programs can be an excellent way to finance your education without taking on debt.

4. Income Sharing Agreements

Income sharing agreements (ISAs) are an increasingly popular way to finance college. With an ISA, you can receive money upfront from a third-party investor in exchange for agreeing to pay back a certain percentage of their future income over a set period of time. These types of arrangements can be beneficial for both students and investors as they offer students a way to finance their education without taking out loans and allow investors to benefit from potential returns. Before committing to an ISA, be sure to thoroughly research the terms of the agreement so you fully understand the risks and benefits for both parties. 

5. Tuition Payment Plans

Tuition payment can also be an option for financing college without taking out a loan. These plans allow you to pay their tuition costs over time rather than in one lump sum. Most schools offer tuition payment plans that include monthly or bi-weekly payments, allowing students to spread out their payments over several months or years. Be sure to research the terms of the plan and any fees that may be associated with it before signing up. With a tuition payment plan, you can easily manage your college expenses without taking out a student loan. 

6. Part-Time Jobs

Part-time jobs can be a great way to finance college without taking out a loan. These jobs offer students the flexibility to work around their school schedules and earn money for tuition, living expenses, or other costs associated with attending college. Part-time jobs also provide valuable experience and skills that can help prepare you for future career opportunities.

7. Employer Scholarships

Many employers offer scholarships to employees or their dependents who are pursuing higher education. These scholarships may cover tuition costs, living expenses, or other educational expenses and can be an excellent way for students to get the financial help they need. Be sure to check with your employer to see if they offer any scholarship and grant opportunities.

8. Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is getting increasingly popular. Through crowdfunding sites such as GoFundMe and Kickstarter, you can create online campaigns to raise money for college tuition or other educational expenses. Crowdfunding campaigns can be a great way to get the help you need without taking on debt while also allowing you to reach out to your family, friends, and even strangers who may be willing to contribute. While it may take some time and effort to launch a successful campaign, it can be an excellent way to finance your education without taking out a loan. 

9. Grants

Grants are another great option. Grants are need-based funds that do not have to be repaid, making them an attractive option for students. Most grants are awarded by the federal government and can be used to cover tuition, books, and other educational expenses. Be sure to research all available grant options before applying as there may be certain criteria that must be met in order to qualify for a particular grant.

10. Savings

Starting early and saving regularly can make it much easier to pay for college without having to rely on loans. Setting aside money each month in a savings account or a 529 plan can help you accumulate the funds you need for tuition, books, and other educational expenses. Be sure to set realistic goals and to take advantage of any tax benefits or other incentives that may be available when saving for college. With careful planning, you can easily finance your education without taking out a loan. 


What are alternatives to student loans?

There are many alternatives including scholarships, grants, work study programs, a part time job and more. Explore the options to understand what works best for you.

What kind of scholarships can students get?

Students can apply for private, public or employer scholarships based on their eligibility requirements and criteria. Scholaroo lists out many scholarships that you can explore and apply for.

Do Student loans go away after 7 years?

No, student loans do not go away after 7 years. Student loan debt is classified as an installment loan and cannot be discharged or forgiven after a certain period of time unless you apply for a specific loan forgiveness program.

Final thoughts

There are many options available to help finance college without taking out a loan, such as scholarships, grants, crowdfunding and savings. With some research and careful planning, it is possible to get the help you need without having to resort to taking out a loan. It’s important to do your due diligence when looking into student loan alternatives so that you can make the best decision for your educational needs.