Here are some alternative options, which you may have overlooked or were curious about, that may help you pay your way through college.
ScholarShare is a tax-deferred savings plan (CA 529 Plan) for California students and their families administered by the ScholarShare Investment Board. Under the program, parents and other family members make contributions for their children's future college expenses into the ScholarShare Trust. Once in the trust, funds grow on a tax-deferred basis, and when withdrawn to pay college expenses, no federal or California state income taxes are incurred. For more information, call (800) 544-5248 or visit the ScholarShare website.
Educational benefits and scholarships are available to those who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. Military Tuition Assistance (MilTA) is coordinated through one’s military service and provides up to $4,500/academic year if eligible. Another source of alternative financial aid is through Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs that are offered at 17 CSU campuses. Loan repayment is also available to Army service personnel. For more information, contact your local Armed Forces recruiting office.
Some students save on some of the costs of attending a four-year university by taking classes at their local community college before transferring into the CSU system. Students should take classes that parallel those that are offered at a CSU campus and fulfill the requirements for the CSU General Education-Breadth (GE-Breadth) program. At least half of every student's freshman and sophomore class schedule is made up of such general education coursework.
Sometimes, by taking such GE classes at a community college, you could save yourself some of the frustration that may arise when you attempt to register for those hard-to-get-into, required general education courses.
Transfer students going this route must check with their community college counseling office to ensure that their target CSU campus approves their course credits within the CSU GE-Breadth (Double-check to be sure).
It may not be possible to earn all your own college costs, but a part-time or summer job can help reduce the amount you'll need to borrow. School employment offices can help you find a job on or off campus. Also, check with the local office of the California Employment Development Department for job listings.
On some campuses, work-study or student assistant programs help students find career-related jobs.
High school students can take the College Board's Advanced Placement examinations and receive college credit for honors courses or independent study in a variety of subjects. Advanced college placement avoids repeating work and could save the cost of up to one year of study. See your high school counselor for details.
Cooperative Education allows you to alternate work and school. You may take time off from school to work in career-related jobs off campus, receive academic credit for that work experience, and return to school in good standing. Often you can earn enough money to pay for the next year, while gaining valuable work experience.
Cooperative education programs are available at public and independent schools and colleges. For more information, contact the schools you are interested in attending.
Reentry Student Credits
Reentry students might find that a school will give academic credit for job, volunteer, or travel experiences. The College Board's College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) is a nationwide program of testing for college credit. Exams are based on undergraduate courses in a variety of subjects. CLEP enables you to demonstrate knowledge gained outside formal educational settings and assists colleges in recognizing and rewarding that knowledge. Contact CLEP, (https://clep.collegeboard.org/), c/o The College Board, P.O. Box 6600, Princeton, New Jersey 08541-6600.