Such a great question. Finding ways to pay for college is stressful but the best way to tackle it is head on: with a game plan. If you think you know what you want to do for a career, I encourage you to look into scholarship programs, work-study programs, grants, and paid internship opportunities first. Scholarships and grants, when used for education, are essentially "free money" and can significantly cut down on costs for school. I see that you listed dental hygienist as a possible career option. You can start by checking here: http://www.adha.org/scholarships-and-grants
Then, if you know you need loans, consider the different kinds: there are federal loans and private loans that you may qualify for. Federal loans are generally need based, and they come in two varieties: subsidized and unsubsidized. Subsidized loans don't accrue interest while you're in school and if you qualify for these, they are a better option compared to unsubsidized and private loans. Unsubsidized loans are also federal loans, but the interest accrues from the moment you get the money, meaning that the amount you need to pay back will continue to grow while you're in school. Private loans, on the other hand, are owned by banks and tend to have much higher interest rates than federal loans. I would recommend filling out your FAFSA, and seeing what you qualify for and go from there.
And once you graduate, there are different repayment options based on your income and what you can afford. For more information on these, I recommend reading the article here: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/understand/plans.
Lastly, try to save as much as you can between now and then!
Last updated Sep 19 at 12:19
This professional recommends the following next steps:
Research Scholarships, Grants and Work Study Programs
Fill out FAFSA when applying to schools
Maximize Federal Loans (if applicable) before taking out Private Loans
Compare Private Loans for interest rates and repayment options before committing to one
Save, save, save as much as you can