Alternative Financing

The bottom line is that if you want to improve your future, there are many ways to help you finance your education. Additionally, financing your education responsibly is a great way to improve your credit history, particularly if you are just starting out. It’s often hard to get loans for housing, cars or other private loans until you have an established credit history. Learning financial literacy and building your credit score can be an important part of your education.

For those who qualify, low-interest introductory offer credit cards, home equity loans, and personal loans are other ways to pay for school. Additionally, there are many scholarships available both locally and nationally. It is always valuable to check with your guidance counselor if you are in high school, or contact local, state and other agencies as well as private charities and service organizations like Rotary Club, Lions Club and others in your community

There are also many opportunities that can be found on the internet. With some diligence and time, you will find many different sources for grants and scholarships. Below are several links that may prove helpful.

Financial Literacy Guides

The following guides offer excellent information on helping you build a good credit rating as well as develop responsible skills for managing your personal finances.

Know Your Credit History

In this age of identity thefts and data breaches at major companies, monitoring your credit has become an important part of your life. It’s imperative that you check your data integrity and credit activity carefully on at least an annual basis. For this reason, credit companies are required to give you your scores at least annually. A couple of free resources that are available are:

Some credit cards offer free, up to date credit reporting as a feature and if your ID has been compromised by a company that was hacked, you may qualify for free credit monitoring for a period of time. If you get an offer due to a data breach, please be very careful to make sure it’s a legitimate offer and that it’s not a phishing or other type of data scam. (Constant awareness has become as important as street smarts for not letting your credit or identity get mugged in a dark alley on the internet.)

Important Warning: There are fraudulent companies that represent that they can either get you scholarships or eliminate student loan debt for a fee.

Links to other resources that may be valuable:

The school cannot verify the quality of any of the following resources. They are provided as a starting point but the school makes no claims for the quality of any of these sites or services.


Alternative Financing Stories

These stories are both inspirational and practical. I’m using fictitious names just to make it easier to read.

Friends and Family

Shelley had already gotten her Bachelors degree in business to satisfy her parents and now she wanted to study massage therapy which was her passion. As an athlete, she had many occasions to benefit from massage which is where she gained her love of the work.

The problem was, her parents didn’t want to pay for additional schooling and felt that she should get a job as an accountant or in finance. Working in a cubicle didn’t excite her. So she was faced with the challenge of having no money after 4 years of being a student.

Being innovative, she went to other family members and friends who supported her dream and she sold advanced massage sessions for after she graduated. She raised her entire tuition by giving people gift cards for future sessions. Some people bought some for themselves and also gave them as gifts.

She completed the program in 7 months, got her license and started working on the people who had sent her to school. She had a waiting clientele, many who became clients and who gave her referrals, and within a very short time, she had a thriving practice.

Future Employer

One of the most important things for an employer is to get employees with a great attitude who they like to work with and believe that they will be a long term employee.

Liz had been working in a day spa for several years and doing a great job. She loved the products and was great with customers. Her employer was thrilled with her performance and wanted her to continue to grow with the company. Her boss had hired several massage therapists who hadn’t worked out and so she finally asked Liz if she was going to get her license. Liz wanted to do both massage and aesthetics but didn’t have the resources to go to school.

That’s when her boss made her an offer she couldn’t refuse. She would help her finance her education provided she made a 2-year commitment to stay with the company. So Liz came in, found out what financial aid was available and then put together a plan with her employer to pay her student loans as long as she worked for her as well as pay the balance of her program that wasn’t covered by financial aid.

Liz took the evening program so she could continue to work and after a year she had completed her first training and was able to get her license. This was just the beginning of a long relationship that was beneficial for both people.

Bottle and Can Return to the Rescue

Allie wanted to study aesthetics but had limited access to funding. But that wasn’t going to stop her. She lived in an apartment complex where a lot of the people knew each other so she went around and asked people if she could collect their returnable items and cash them in to pay for tuition.

You may be thinking that’s just nickles and dimes and you are right. About $15 a week in total which she was able to apply to a $60 a month payment plan to supplement her tuition assistance and reduce her debt at the end of the program. Not only did it help her with tuition, but it was also a pretty great service to the people who didn’t want to be bothered.

Where Does the Money Go?

Carl really wanted to learn polarity therapy but he didn’t see how he was going to be able to afford it. Because he already had a pretty good job he didn’t qualify for as much financial aid so he needed to come up with more money for a payment plan for the balance of the program. But he said at the end of the month there was never any money left so he didn’t see how he could afford school.

We sat down with Carl and did a very simple budget looking at how much he was making and what he was spending it on. The funny thing was after we added up everything he thought he was spending, there was still $300 left over at the end of the month. He scratched his head and said, “Where’s it going?”

The next step was for him to keep all his receipts from the week and come back and look at it again. Suddenly he realized that Starbucks, drinks at a bar, snacks, and other impulses (and frequently overpriced) purchases were draining his resources. With a few minor changes, like making his own coffee in the morning and only buying food in grocery stores, he was able to come up with $200 a month for school and still have some money left over for other things he wanted to do. It was a life changing experience.

Who Supports You?

Jackie really wanted to do massage therapy but her parents couldn’t help her and she didn’t qualify for financial aid because they made to much money and she was still under 24 so she was a dependent student (meaning your financial aid is based on your parent’s earnings).

She was very disappointed but we encouraged her to talk to other family members to see if anyone could help her out. At first, she felt nervous about doing it but her desire to learn the work was greater than her fear so she started asking. Wonderfully, she had an Aunt who said she could tell that Jackie really wanted to do this and so she loaned her whole tuition. Jackie went to school and did such a great job that she forgave the loan when she graduated.

There’s Lots of Help if You Look For It

I saved the best for last. Two friends came in, both of them wanting to go to cosmetology school. When we got to the part of the interview about if they would need financial assistance, Allison said she had it covered. Her friend looked at her and wondered how she was doing it.

Allison had gone to her employer, her church and every community center like Rotary Club, Lions Club, and others and asked if they had any scholarship programs. She also searched online and found additional local organizations, scholarships, and grants that she could apply for. She kept hearing the same story over and over again. Almost no one ever applied even though the organizations publicized that the scholarships were available.

Allison managed to put together her entire tuition with the grants and scholarships from the local organizations. It was truly wonderful to see her launched her career without any debt when she graduated.

(Please Note: Avoid any site or service that charges you an upfront fee to help you find a grant or loan. These are often scams that take advantage of students. Any legitimate service should not charge any fee at all or only charge a very small fee only after they actually help you get financial aid or grants. Please be careful. If you aren’t sure something is legitimate, please contact the financial aid office for guidance before moving forward.)

Intangible Benefits

The one thing that all of these students had in common was they were not afraid to ask for help. They thought outside the box and reached out to the people in their lives. This act of courage carried into their lives when they graduated. They found it was easier to ask for help as they started their professional careers and as a result, they had a high degree of success when they graduated.

So it comes down to the very simple but courageous act of risking rejection and asking for help. If you think about it, you have very little to lose and a lot to gain.

We look forward to hearing your success stories as you go for what you want and create the future you deserve.