COVID continues to muddy the waters as to how families and students can pay for college. In most cases, they were able to rely on a combination of financial aid, student loans, savings, and scholarships to cover the basic costs. If those funds were not sufficient, the student could earn additional money through the Federal Work-Study Program or private part-time jobs.
But those assumptions are not so assured now. Unemployment is very high as businesses struggle to reopen. Many part-time jobs that once fell to the college crowd are being snapped up by those experiencing financial shortfalls without additional unemployment subsidies. Campuses may not open, which restricts job opportunities in college towns. The status of work-study and internship opportunities is also up in the air. So students will have to be even more creative in the ways they look for money. Here are some ideas that might be able to help:
• Online Employment: There are many good job opportunities online. Some have been around for some time, such as customer service or data entry, and others are opening as more companies adjust to the online economy. Search for positions that suit your capabilities, and are flexible enough to work around your class schedule. Students who are creative or artistic may also be able to sell their work through Etsy or similar outlets.
• Sell Online: Take a good look around your home for items that you no longer use. Some of your clothes or childhood books and toys might be valuable to others. Look for online sites such as eBay where you can get the most money for your items.
• Internship Opportunities: Internships in your field of study might look quite different in the time of COVID, but some companies are still willing to help up-and-coming students learn more about their business. Different ways of breaking into the market include virtual internships and micro-internships. Look at companies that are still hiring and search their websites to learn whether they offer internships. Handshake is an online platform that connects willing students and hiring employers. If your specific career aspiration is not available, think about complementary internships that can help you build valuable employment skills.
• Possible Unemployment Benefits: This is a long shot, and can vary in different states, but there is a limited possibility that high school and college students whose summer jobs fell through because of the pandemic may qualify for jobless benefits under a special federal program.
• Don’t Write Off the Federal Work-Study Program: The Federal Work-Study Program traditionally emphasized employment in civic education and work related to your course of study. Whether students can access work-study funding during the pandemic will greatly depend on the policies being implemented at their college. Many will place preference on job opportunities with enhanced safety precautions or, depending on your college, you may be able to work remotely and qualify for assistance. Some schools might update their agreements with private for-profit employers for work-study jobs, while others will provide grants to replace work-study aid for some students in cases where they are learning online and cannot work remotely. US News & World Report stated that “The California State University system, one of the first major universities to announce an online fall semester, will offer limited work-study to some students on a case-by-case basis.”
You must first file the FAFSA to be eligible for any federal work-study opportunities. Be prepared to complete this crucial application when it comes online beginning October 1, 2020.
One way to generate funds without working is scholarships. The CFAA Scholarship Program helps you locate, organize and apply to personalized scholarship opportunities. Visit our website, and enter your name and email to receive a FREE COPY of “Top 5 Tips for a Successful Scholarship Search.”
They always say that when there is a will, there is a way. When it comes to finding money for college, there is still a way. For the latest financial aid information, look for my weekly JustAskJodi emails and tune in for my weekly Twitter chat at #CollegeCash every Thursday at 5pm Pacific/8pm Eastern.