how to pay for college if financial aid doesn't cover everything

Several fast food companies offer tuition reimbursement programs that could help supplement everything else you’re doing. Over the summer you could work at McDonalds for 15 hours a week or more for 3 months and then apply for their $2,500 reimbursement. At Chipotle you have to work there a year and then they will reimburse up to $5250.

Utilize tax benefits for education.

“Q4. How much is the American opportunity tax credit worth?
A. It is a tax credit of up to $2,500 of the cost of tuition, fees and course materials paid during the taxable year. Also, 40% of the credit (up to $1,000) is refundable. This means you can get it even if you owe no tax.”

Take the time to read through IRS publication 970 that explains Tax Benefits for Education.

@blossom I’ve watched videos on youtube about how their work day goes, asked my friend about the classes, and read for myself and then made the decision that it wasn’t for me (majoring in finance, i could see myself doing that job for 5 yrs, no more than that before I got bored). Also I have already had my transcript evaluated by the colleges I applied to and everything transfers over but one class (I took physical science, but it doesn’t count, I’ll have to take biology) into the new major. I’ve taken plenty of career test, and business and technology always scored the highest, the second highest was criminal justice. Business is just basic math (unless you want to be an accountant, something I would NEVER want to do). Majoring in information systems gives me the best of both worlds (business and tech) if I get tired of one side of it, I can always switch to business or tech and get paid pretty well because I looked on the website and I seen that it will have growth in that field in 10 yrs. As long as I pay attention in class, ask questions when needed, go to tutoring, and actually have people that support and motivate me, I should be fine.

As far as I know, an independent student with junior standing can borrow $12,500 a year.

Pell is $6,195 for $0 FAFSA EFC.

You need to look at tuition and fees, then living expenses.

Are you going to be living at home, or in an apartment, or on campus?

Sharing rent and cooking meals might be cheaper than a dorm and meal plan.

I just got my final gpa in it is a 2.840 but when I transfer it will be slightly lower because they do not count repeated courses like my CC does. And in Louisiana at least at the jobs i’ve had, you had to work there a certain amount of years before you get reimbursed (at least when I last worked at certain employers). I also do not know anyone there, so the roommate situation is out of the question, most people I am graduating with are going in the work field or staying and going to the local university. I know you can meet people on the internet and find roommates but how do you know you’re not meeting a serial killer? I’ve looked at apartments and the problem is you need the first months rent and the deposit which is the same as the rent. In Lafayette it’s not like that. you can find an apartment for $600 (in a good neighborhood) and only have to put $250-$300 down for a deposit. In the Houma-Thibodaux area $550 rent will get you in a real sketchy neighborhood. There is no way that I can work full time and try to find an apartment before July 15th (which is the last day I can get a refund on my deposit and the last day to fill out an exemption form so I can live off campus). I would have money for some things if I didn’t have to buy another car (yes I do need a car before ya’ll say I don’t, my car is almost 20 yrs old and not reliable).

If you don’t have the money for this college and you can’t make enough working to cover the gap then it just might not be affordable. Did you talk to anyone at ULL? Commuting may be your best option. You could work part-time while you go to school full-time or get a full-time job and take classes as you can afford them. Another option might be to defer for a year and work to save the money you need.

I did talk to someone at ULL, it’s not worth it. The major I wanted to change into is just going to take 39 out of my 60 credits that I have. It doesn’t make sense to go there and have to start over as a freshman or sophomore when I can go to a college that has the major I want and almost all my credits transfer over (only 1 class doesn’t transfer).

UPDATE: I’ve been accepted to LSU. Yes I know LSU is more expensive. Some of my friends are saying it would be better for me going to LSU, because I can live with my cousin and commute to school. They said that I’d probably end up paying the same thing if I go to Nicholls or La tech because I have to pay for housing. This sounds about right. Also They’re offering me the pelican promise award which waives my registration fee and tuition for the 2019-2020 academic year. I’m waiting for everything to be verified so I can see my financial aid award (my pell grants and loans). If it helps Baton Rouge is an 1 hr- 45 mins away from home. My cousin stays in Baton Rouge and lives maybe 20-30 mins away from LSU. would this actually be better? and yes LSU has my major.

You need to verify with your cousin that you will be able to live with him/her, and what your responsibilities will be for expenses when you have moved in. You need to verify the transportation situation. Will you need to drive to campus or is that walking/biking/bus distance?

What does th Pelicqn Promise cover, and is it renewable for your senior year?

A tuition waiver for a year at a school that offers your major? That’s fantastic! I agree that you should get clear with your cousin about expectations before making any commitments. That said, you have made terrific use of this time and this forum to understand your options. Very impressive.

This is the link that kinda explains more about the pelican award. And I will speak with my cousin Chris tomorrow so I can get the full expectations and idea of living with her. I know for sure that I will live with her for at least a yr. She says that she is moving into senior assistant living because her mom passed last yr and the house reminds her of her mom. She is going to give the house to her niece (my other cousin). However, the senior assistant living has her on a waiting list (shes like number 52-55) and she said that I can live with her until then. I will ask my other cousin if I can live with her when my older cousin Chris gives her the house. Worse case scenario, if i do not finish school before my Chris moves and my other cousin says I can’t live there. I’ll get an apartment closer to school or I’ll just move back to Lafayette and drive the 45 mins- 1hr drive to class. Also since Baton Rouge is bigger and the city bus runs everywhere I can ride the bus or drive, or I can bum rides from my family.

How much will you owe in August for each of your options? Do you have enough money on hand to pay it? If not, do you have a job and enough hours to earn it?

Did you talk with the advisors at ULL to see if they have something similar to the major you want? Computer majors have different names but the courses can be similar. If UKL is in commuting distance your Pell and the $12.5k federal loan for independents might cover the cost. If those are the only loans you’ll have you’ll finish your last two years with $25k in loans. That’s not horrible.

@myos1634 will probably have good advice. My concern for you is that at Nicholls you have a loan of $12k/year and a $4700 gap with no way to pay. You can’t work enough to raise the money and your family can’t help. At LSU you get a tuition waiver, but only for a year. And your housing is contingent on cousins being able to let you stay. If that falls through you plan to get an apartment. Even if the housing works out, how will you cover your share of expenses plus tuition, car insurance, and personal expenses? You said you can’t work more than 15 hours/week while you’re in school. That won’t be enough. I think you need a solid plan for how to pay for the next 2 years before you commit to transfer.

Congrats! I would reach out to Student Services & explain your situation.

I think the tuition waiver is renewed depending on satisfactory academic progress. It does include access to specific support services to guarantee you meet the SAP criteria so take advantage of these services. It’s better to see them at fest znd find you don’t need them, then to find out you shouldn’t have waited and are now in a hole you must dig yourself out of.
Confirm that your cousin is willing to let you stay and under what conditions ( yard work+ grocery shopping + helping on weekends? Paying rent? Will you have a spare key?)
Will LSU transfer your credits as pre-reqs & major courses, or only general credits?
Right now, LSU seems the most workable situation but check out the small details.


An aside from what else you were asking about, Carmax does provide tuition assistance/reimbursement without requiring any time commitment before or after your classes. Nor do they require that your classes have anything to do with working at Carmax, so you can major in what you want. Benefits are for full and part-time employees.

$5250 per year for full-time
$2500 per year for part-time

Carmax has 2 types of stores, reg. retail and smaller cross functional stores…sales are paid hourly non-commission in smaller stores with health insurance (blue cross+shield) for part-time and full-time employees.

Hope this helps.


This is a time for you to show your research skills. You can look at the COA for each of the schools and figure out what your costs will be. I agree with others you need to talk to your cousin about the particulars of rooming there.

I am researching if LSU will be cheaper if I live with my cousin than living and attending Nicholls or Louisiana Tech. Honestly I would love to wait and see what each school offers me in financial aid and scholarships, however, that might not be the case because I have to wait at least 2-3 weeks for them to process my final transcript. I don’t think I can wait that long, colleges are starting orientation and if I wait that long classes will be filled up and then I have no choice but to sit out. Sitting out is something I do not want to do, I am just hitting my stride in school. Also ULL had something close to my major called business informatics like stated in my previous post, only 39 out of my 60 credits transfer, why would I be a freshman or sophomore again when I can go somewhere else and be a Junior? I would not be saving money because I am spending more money on school because I am staying there longer. However, all of my classes do transfer into the business major at ULL, I do not want to just major in business that why I am changing my major. I could stay home and go to ULL major in business and minor in computer, but once again I am spending more money because it would take me longer to graduate (you have to have at 18 credits to graduate with your minor) not to mention that I will be taking classes that I am no longer enthusiastic about. I could also stay and go to ULL and change my major to general studies and take computer classes, but that is if the computer department allows to to take their classes (you know because people in that major will have first dibs on classes). Why risk not being able to get in a class for the convenience of staying home.

LSU would be a superior academic experience. Call Student services and see what they can do to help you. Ask if you can use your Pell grant for room & board. Ask about work study. Call them today.

@katwkittens does it matter what department you work in at carmax? I rather do anything else but sell the cars.