High school students contemplating obtaining a university degree - as well as the long term unemployed who feel the need to retrain themselves in a different profession - are typically faced with the challenge of financing the increasingly steep cost of higher education that usually exceeds whatever limited financial resources they currently have available to them.
Although quality undergraduate and graduate school tuition fees can easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars per year - not to mention schooling accommodation and materials costs -numerous programs and methods for financing an education fortunately exist to help the aspiring student obtain the education they desire or require.

Some of the more common ways of financing an education include the following:

Need Based Educational Grants

Applicants who can demonstrate a substantial financial need can often obtain an educational grant from the financial aid office of their targeted university or training facility. Some educational grants are also available from other sources, depending on your qualifications. The main advantage of grants is that they generally do not have to be repaid, although qualifying can be challenging, especially if you have significant income or assets.

Merit Based Scholarships

Exceptional high school students are often awarded merit based educational financial aid in the form of scholarships that do not have to be repaid. Qualifying for such scholarships can depend on a student's high school performance or on their scores on commonly accepted scholastic aptitude tests, such as the SAT Reasoning Test or the ACT.

Work-Study Employment Plans

Some students may wish to apply to their educational establishment to see if employment opportunities are available for them to earn money to put toward educational expenses while they study. The U.S. Federal Government currently offers a 60 percent wage subsidy to employers of students engaged in work-study programs.

Internships and Apprenticeships

On the job training opportunities are often available in the form of internship for white collar jobs and apprenticeships for blue collar jobs. These educational programs are typically run half time during the school year to accommodate the need to attend classes, and full time during the summer. Although usually low paying, they allow students to obtain valuable hands-on experience in their chosen field and may even result in a job offer from the company they participated in the program with.

Private Loans

Private educational loans can be obtained by soliciting them from your friends and family, as well as from various other private sources. Such loans can usually be arranged at either fixed or variable interest rates, and they typically require a financially sound co-signer and a credit check if the lender is not familiar or comfortable with your credit history.

Stafford Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans

These educational loans are guaranteed by the U.S. Federal Government via its Department of Education and can be used to pay tuition and other educational expenses. The subsidized Stafford Loans require financial need to be demonstrated and do not accrue interest while you are in school, while the unsubsidized Stafford Loans are not based on financial need and accrue interest as soon as the loan is disbursed. Both types have a fixed interest rate, and payments are not required while you remain in school.

Direct PLUS Loans

The U.S. Federal Government funds Direct PLUS Loans for educational purposes that currently carry a fixed interest rate of 7.9 percent and have more relaxed credit requirements. The loan amount that a qualifying student can obtain is up to the attendance cost, less any other financial aid received that year.

Be sure to check with your prospective school's financial aid office to see what options are available and whether they can provide you with further assistance in finding the educational financing option that is right for you.