Welcome to the Make College Happen Challenge

Contest Overview

Students are challenged to creatively answer the question, "How do you plan to pay for college?" Entries can be in the form of a video, photo, essay, song, or poem (be creative!).
Students who are at least 14 and not older than 18 at the time of entry.
The contest launches November 1, 2016 at noon (12:00 p.m.) ET
and Ends December 31, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. (ET).
  • 1st Place: $15,000
  • 2nd Place: $10,000
  • 3rd Place: $8,000
  • 7 Finalists not in the top 3: $1,000 each

Essay writer winner: "How do I plan to pay for college?"

Essay Winner

Nowadays, going to college to get a higher education is one of young people's priorities. Although college and university education is not something new to the world, finding ways to pay for it is still a challenge for many. This is due to high tuition and board costs that do not cover other living expenses like clothes, books, traveling to home for holidays, personal expenses, and so on. Thus, students and their parents from all over the nation start saving money for college in advance and apply for multiple financial aid programs to afford college. Below, we gathered the most effective tips from the essay winner on how to collect money for college.

Count your savings

First of all, to pay for college, count the money that you already have for this purpose. Thus, you will know where to start in your fundraising process: maybe, you need to cover only travel expenses and some books; maybe, you need money to cover tuition fees for the entire academic year. When it's done, estimate the sum you can save until the due date for your payment. After getting a sum of both figures, you will know whether you can afford a certain school.

Submit your FAFSA

Many students think that they can hardly be chosen for federal assistance for educational goals, but that's not true. If you are a US citizen who is seeking admission to state colleges and even private universities, fill out this form. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid has a lot of pages to be completed, but still, it's worth your try. Once you complete and submit it, you can get quite a good sum to pay for your education from several federal opportunities: grants, loans, work while studying programs, state, and college-based aid. The key benefit of this federal aid program is that it is based on your need and your family income, not your school accomplishments.

Search for merit-based scholarships

Do you have any talents that your college may look for? Are you a sportsman ready to play for college? If this is your story, you should definitely apply for scholarships that apply to you. You can search for them in your college department that you are going to enroll in, as well as online. Be ready to spend a lot of time on applications for such programs: they require proof of your sports, music, art, or technology achievements besides scholarships essays.

Search for merit-based scholarships

Apply for need-based grants

If you are not qualified for any merit-based scholarship programs or already applied to them, search for other sources of grants based on your financial situation. Usually, they are offered by private foundations, large enterprises, etc. This type of aid is not very popular so you may need to spend time doing research.

Get a loan

Once you have completed tons of scholarship and grant applications, you may feel like there is nothing more to do to raise money for starting the college educational process. Still, you are not done yet: if you need money to cover any other fees, feel free to apply for a student loan. Of course, it is one of the most undesired things to get into, but what can you do if there are no other options? Consider both federal and private loans, their duration, and conditions to make sure you will cope with paying them after college.

Work while studying

Finally, finding a job while studying in college is quite a popular activity to raise some money for personal expenses, books, travels, and meals. You do not need to engage in full-time work as you need to be present at lectures and seminars. Are you afraid that there are no part-time jobs for you? Do not worry. There are a few options to consider:

1. On-campus job

Working at a local cafeteria, bookstore, library, and other facilities is compatible with studying and will bring you money; however, such jobs are very limited, and you may not find any vacancies at the moment.

2. Online job

Why should you go anywhere to make money? Becoming a blogger, an essay writer, a reporter for a local newspaper website will not require leaving your room, and are still well-paid things to do. Just register on freelance websites to get your first orders, and surf the web for online writing jobs to start earning.

3. Help with homework

After all, you can become a tutor for your classmates or younger students on a prepaid basis. If you have passed your tests well, you can teach others to succeed too. Ask yourself: “What can I offer to others for money?”, and the answer will come.

As you can see, there are a lot of ways to make college affordable. Therefore, do not hesitate to dream big and set your goals high: with the right approach to money planning, you will be able to pay for any study program in the nation.

See official rules

The contest is now closed