How to Afford Private College

If you’re wondering how in the world you can afford private college tuition, you’re not alone. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to make college much more affordable!

You may have already heard of some of the below tips, or “hacks,” but maybe they didn’t seem like they would make enough of a difference.

One or two alone might not. But together, these are the keys to affording that private college at the top of your list.

The cost of college tuition can look pretty high at first look, but it’s important to remember that the cost you see “on paper” is before financial aid is applied.

How much you’ll have to pay for college depends on what you’re doing now to nurture your gifts and talents, and knowing your financial aid options.

(This article doesn’t focus on the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It’s the form you fill out to start the financial aid process, and you can learn more about it here.)


If you’re in high school or college now, how much effort you put into your studies makes a big difference in the amount of aid you can receive when you apply to a new college.

Admissions officers are looking at a number of “hard factors” that tell them how likely you are to succeed in college. They may award financial aid if you meet certain requirements.

  • Grade point average (GPA)
  • Grades in courses within your area of interest
  • Standardized test scores (SAT or ACT)

GPA is among the most important of these. It’s part of what determines your eligibility for “merit aid,” or financial help based on your academic ability.


Volunteering with a nonprofit organization isn’t about making money, but having a gift for generosity can pay you back when it’s time to apply for college.

In addition to “hard factors,” financial aid can also be tied to several “soft factors” that tell admissions officers more about you than a bunch of numbers can.

So find a way to serve. If volunteering is part of your story, it can set you apart when applying for certain scholarships (more on this form of aid below).


What are you into outside of your core classes, or outside of school? Whatever it is, exploring your passions can also open doors to financial help.

Do you:

  • Play an instrument or sing?
  • Like to go horseback riding?
  • Draw, paint, or create another form of art?
  • Like to dabble in computer programming?
  • Write stories?

These are just a few of the interests that could lead to a special opportunity for financial aid. And the list goes on! So whatever you’re into, stick with it. Take pride in it. It could help you get into college!


Know your options for free money for college! Well, not truly “free.” Scholarships aren’t given away for nothing. You earn them as a result of your hard work in pursuing your goals.

But it is “free” in the sense that you don’t have to pay the money back, as long as you meet the requirements (like staying at college long enough to complete your degree).

So you should definitely apply for as many scholarships as you’re eligible for. Financial aid officers can help you with this.


The financial aid office will also help you figure out what grants you can apply for. A grant is another source of tuition money that you don’t have to pay back.

Grants and scholarships are very similar, but grants often have less to do with your academic record (though there are minimum requirements) and more to do with your economic status.

Grants can be from the college, private organizations, and state or federal government. The Federal Pell Grant, for example, awards up to $6,895 per year based on financial need.


Once you’ve applied for all the “free” money you can, you can borrow money to cover the gap between the balance and what you’re able to pay out-of-pocket.

This is tuition money you do need to pay back—but usually on terms that are better than almost any other type of loan. The interest rate is typically half of a typical credit card or less.

  • Credit cards = 20%+
  • Federal student loans = 10% or less

It’s best to apply for loans from the federal government (the Department of Education). They usually have lower interest rates than what you would get at a private bank, more repayment options, and you may qualify to have no interest charged while you’re in school.

Bethany College: A Small, Private College We’ll Help You Afford

Figuring out how to pay for college can get pretty complex. But if you’re interested in any of Bethany College’s 24 exciting areas of study, we’re here to help!

We understand when the appeal of this place—like small class sizes, personal connection with faculty, and the beauty of northern West Virginia—makes you wonder if you can afford it.

You’re not alone! 100% of our students receive some form of financial assistance.

So that’s the secret of how to afford private college: come to Bethany College where we’ll help you figure out your financial aid options and make your college dreams come true!

Learn more about financial aid at Bethany College here.