I didn't attend college until I was 26. I had a job and my job provided tuition assistance for my first degree. My Masters degree was earned by using student loans. Colleges can provide scholarships for academics and athletics. Some colleges also have grants for students. There are a lot of scholarship opportunities available to students. You have to be willing to complete the requirements for the scholarships. You can do internet search for college scholarships. www.Fastweb.com is one website that is completely free. There are also several books that compile scholarships. The Ultimate Scholarship Book 2018 is one of these books. You can buy it from bookstores and you maybe able to find it at your local library. The more scholarships you apply for the more chances you have in being awarded scholarships. You can also talk with your school guidance counselor if you are in high school. They may know about local scholarships that are available. The financial aid office at the college you will be attending will also have information about financial aid and scholarships.
Teresa M. recommends the following next steps:
As Teresa mentioned, asking a school counselor for local scholarships is a great first step though be mindful that there are many websites that also have scholarships available (some only requiring short essays or applications). In my experience, scholarships are certainly out there but it requires personal effort and persistence to reach the benefit of the many opportunities out there. As an example, in one my clubs in college there was an annual banquet that included an opportunity to write a 2 page essay and be eligible for the 20 scholarships available funded by alumni donors. This was a perfect opportunity, given the population eligible for the scholarship was approximately 150 students in the club, of which only 80 attended the banquet, of which only 30-40 applied for the scholarships. Needless to say, many students left with hundreds or thousands in scholarships each. In short, research and apply for as many scholarships as possible!
Regarding dealing with debt after college, take advantage of the "6 month grace period" that is available (or at least it was for me) where your first 6 months after college have no interest accrued on your loans as it's "frozen." Just before you are required to make payments, be sure to be aware of what different interest rates are associated with each. Pay the highest interest % loans first and save as much as you can and continue to pay as much as you can afford (at least the minimum per month, ideally more so that you don't accrue interest on loans and pay more than necessary over time). You can certainly do it, but the cost of a college is very important to consider prior to attending. Whatever college package you receive, be sure to estimate how much 4 years will cost, and if you have merit scholarships be sure to keep at least the minimum GPA so you don't risk losing the scholarship.