15 Ways to Pay for Your Education If You Don’t Have Money

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If you are looking for alternative means to pay your tuition fees and/or living expense, this article is for you. I’m going to share with you 15 possible ways to get financial aid or financial education to pay for your education.

Most people want to further their formal education but funding is a major challenge. Not everyone pursuing higher education has rich parents to pay their school fees and living expense. Also getting a scholarship or bursary is not exactly easy.

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There is also the option of securing a student loans which you’ll start repaying after you graduate. A lot of students get scared at the mention of “study loan”. But after helping many graduate students secure international student loans to study Master in US and Canada, I can assure you that it’s not always as scary as it seems. I’ll discuss this and more in this article.

The concern about money is a major cause of stress for aspiring college and graduate students. It is why students drop out before they can complete their education. My intention is to draw your attention to as many options as possible.

15 Ways to Pay for Your Education If You Don’t Have Money

 1. Student Loans

In the past, it was difficult for African students to access loans to study abroad due the rigid and far-reaching requirements. But that has changed. Today, Emeka in Nigeria can get up to $100,000 loan to study for his master program in US, UK, Canada, even Australia and Ireland without providing collateral or cosigner. Keep reading to learn how you too can do the same.

To clarify, student loans are usually offered by government and/or financial institutions (local or foreign banks) to students to study at different levels of education and program in the country or to study abroad. Loans are usually offered for profit. Hence, you will have to repay the loan with interest over an agreed period after you graduate – typically 10 year duration.

The major obstacle for students, especially those from Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and other African countries, from accessing such loans is that they often require that you provide a collateral and/or a cosigner.

A collateral is an asset pledged as security for repayment of a loan, to be forfeited in the event of a default.

A cosigner is someone that is willing to take full responsiblity for paying back a loan, along with the primary borrower. A cosigner is obligated to pay any missed payments and even the full amount of the loan if the borrower doesn’t pay.

Now you can see how this made it impossible for most students to access student loans. Because, how many students have relatives that are financially capable and willing to accept such risky responsibility.

The goodnews is that there is an alternative – MPower Financing. Mpower Financing is a lender based in the United States, offering up to $100,000 international student loan to students including African students – without requiring a collateral and a cosigner. MPower access students based on their future career potential using AI and data analytics. And then make loan decisions – approval or rejection – based on the students career projection.

As an MPower partner, After School Africa have helped a number of students from Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Egypt and several other African countries secure up to $90,000 student loan to study for Masters in US and Canada.

We provide guidance and support to African students who have applied or have been accepted to study for Master in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) or MBA degrees at any of MPower partner universities in US and Canada to give you the best chance at getting your loan approved.

Unfortunately, at the time of writing this MPower does not offer student loans to other countries outside US and Canada. They don’t offer loans to students going for bachelors program since loan is only approved for maximum of two year program.

Other than that, I’ll recommend you learn more about MPower student loan here to see if it fits right for you.

 2. Scholarships

Scholarship, a form of financial aid, is awarded to deserving students and applicants. It is based on various criteria given by the donor/sponsor of the scholarship awards. Scholarships are the most common and well-known form of financial aid. There are various types of scholarships and different ways they are awarded by various organizations and individuals. Some of the common types of scholarships are outlined below:

  • Merit-based scholarships: These scholarships are awarded to deserving students based on a number of criteria, ranging from academics, achievements, hobbies, talents, and/or affiliations with various groups or careers, such as medicine or engineering. These merit-based scholarships are usually offered by the federal and state governments, large corporations or organizations, businesses, professional organisations or even the university bodies. These merit-based scholarship holders are usually exempted from tuition fees and they may be given monthly living allowances too. This type of scholarship is likely to last for a few months, probably up to nine months.
  • Sports scholarships: this is another form of scholarship awarded to students who are into sports and want to be a member of the college or university team. Most of these sports scholarships are offered by the college or university. You don’t necessarily have to be a professional or be very good at the sport you practice. Most times local sports groups or various sports organisations may offer these sports scholarships and they usually look at certain criteria before the scholarships are awarded.
  • Specific scholarships: these specific scholarships are awarded to students with certain ethnic backgrounds or affiliations. These types of scholarships are awarded to benefit a specific gender or various ethnic minorities. Examples of these types of specific scholarships are the ones awarded to only Africans, African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics or the female gender. These scholarships are also meant to help minority students pursue an education in different academic fields of their choice. Still under this category of specific scholarships, are the ones offered to students with physical disabilities, learning disabilities and debilitating health conditions. These scholarships are mainly awarded by various NGOs and organizations.

See List of Scholarships for International Students

3. Grants or Bursaries

Often called need-based scholarships or gift aid. The grants or bursaries are basically money free, that is, the financial aid rendered is not to be paid back. These types of financial aid are usually based on the financial circumstances of the person who is requesting, but there may also be other factors which can be considered before been awarded the grant.

These other factors could be the physical state or mental disabilities of the person requesting. In the US, the Department of Education offers countless federal grants to students who are attending a four-year course in colleges or universities or even career schools, for example, catering schools. Also in Germany, different types of Bursaries or grants are awarded. Each institution awarding the merit grants are to decide the number of grants to be given out and the duration as well.

4. Student Prize

Student prizes are the prize awards given to deserving students and it is usually represented by a certain amount of money. Although, these may not be enough to fund your studies, it can serve as financial aid. Student prizes are a one-time award. Student prizes can be awarded for several reasons including;

  • For academic achievements
  • To reward your performance in certain examinations
  • It may also be awarded based on the results of your coursework and public examinations
  • For being the best student and getting the best paper in a subject or course
  • For rewarding an outstanding work submitted for a dissertation or thesis, as well as for overall excellent performances.

Also read 7 Writing Contests with Huge Cash Prize

5. Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is an innovative method to earn your tuition fee for college. You can start by setting up a crowdfunding account, then seek help from your family and friends to support you. You can also start a campaign to raise donations on your account. The common crowdfunding platforms include; GoFundMe and IndieGoGo.

6. Employer Training

If you are an employee and want to further your studies for master’s or postgraduate level, some companies offer a means of upskilling their workers by investing in their education. After which they come back and continue working for them. Approach your Human Resource manager at your company and find out what options your company has for such funding.  It is also becoming a trend for companies to pay back some of their employees’ student loans when they start working for them.

7. Study and Work

While you study, you can also work by taking up part-time jobs and internships to save for your education. Studying while you work is one of the most encouraging sources of financial aid, as you don’t have to struggle to get scholarships or grants. And you don’t have to pay back student loans. When looking for a job in school, you should try to find a job that is flexible, do not require you working late hours and offers a decent wage. It is an added advantage if your job allows you to learn about a field you are interested in or studying in school. Some of the jobs you can do while in school includes;

  • Apply for a paid internship in your field
  • Drive for Uber or bolt
  • Tutor in a subject you excel in or know how to tutor well
  • Freelancing
  • Babysit for families
  • Sell your old belongings you don’t use or need anymore and so on.

Also read How to Graduate with a First Class

8. Take Online Classes

You can decide to take online classes. These are cheaper and more affordable than attending a physical college or University. Most of these online institutions offer classes like normal schools and certificates that are accepted worldwide. You can attend your classes at your convenience and work if you need to. Make sure you are attending an accredited and acknowledged online institution. Take a look at the online colleges you want to attend, and check if your credits would transfer.

9. Take Part-Time Classes

There is no reason to devote all your time and money to a full-time education if you can’t afford it. You can take a few classes at a time if that is all you can afford. That way you can keep working, too. Each school offers different levels of involvement. You could go part-time or you could just take one class at a time.

10. Payment Programs

Just because you don’t have all the money for tuition at once, doesn’t mean you can’t attend a higher learning institution. Many schools have payment programs that allow you to pay over the course of the school year, rather than in one lump sum. You can pay your tuition fees in installments rather than at once. Some schools offer installment plans, while others might offer monthly payment plans. Discuss your individual needs with a financial aid advisor at your school and find out if this option is available.

11. Source for Money From Close Friends and Family

When the need arises to study and you have no money, you can also source for money to finance your studies by meeting your family members and close friends to help you out. You can also come with your mentor to guide you on how to go about asking for help. He or she may help you in funding your education as well.

12. Start a Business

You can start a business while you study, this can be an online business or physical. You can start small and be economical about the business. Remember that the aim is to make money as fast as possible to finance your studies. So try to start a business that will bring in quick cash the short term. 

Also read How to Move From Idea to Start Your First Business

13. Tuition Reimbursement – Program

You can find out if your school has a Tuition reimbursement program to cut off some expenses or pay part of your tuition fee. Some institutions and colleges can pay you to graduate on time. But this does not mean you should rush through your studies. The payment program is often available for final year students to help take care of their remaining college expenses.

14. Work Remote Jobs

You can work remote jobs as a freelancer or even as a virtual assistant. This will help you focus more and have enough time for your studies. These remote jobs are basically online and there are a lot of companies now online in search of remote workers.

15. Apply for Outside Scholarships

You can apply for outside scholarships from various organizations that provide scholarships to students. These awards can make a difference in paying your tuition fee. The application process may be tedious and not accessed on time. It is important to sharpen your essay writing skills when writing and requesting for a scholarship. Some of these outside scholarships require you to write an application letter, and submit your transcripts and a recommendation letter.

Watch this video on ‘7 New High Paying Skills That Require No Degree’
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Ways You Can Save Money While in College or the University

While in college or the university, students are often in need of money to take care of expenses. If you are on a scholarship, some scholarships give monthly allowances and some don’t. Here are some ways you can save money while in school:

Also read 3 Stages of Money You Need to Become Financially Free

  • Tutor your mates: if you are very good in a course and have to ability to tutor your peers, you can do so and earn money from it too. You can organize an evening class, ask your mates or even juniors to pay a little token and then you teach them.
  • Do online jobs: there are some online jobs which you can take up as a student. Some of these online jobs take up a few hours of your time, therefore you can still study, attend your classes and earn money as well.
  • Work and study in school: you can always check your school’s website or post-board for in-school jobs. Most colleges and universities place adverts for different job vacancies which students can be able to handle, so look the website up often for some of these job adverts and you earn too.
  • Work during the holidays: during the holidays, when most students are travelling, get a job you can do for the duration of the holiday. You can sign up for a paid internship in your career field and then you can learn and also earn money during the break which you would save up and use when another school session resumes.
  • Limit your spending: when you are in school, there is so much for pay for and so much that you would need, it is then advisable to limit your spending. You can take rent a little room or look for a partner to share a room space with thereby, saving the extra money you get on other things. Also, you can look for your seniors in school and get their previously used textbooks and handouts to use for yourself instead of buying them afresh. You will have a lot of money to use for your other needs in school.

Also read 24 Common Habits Every Student Should Break Before You Leave School

Quality education is an investment that doesn’t come cheap at all for anyone. Even if you are being sponsored by your family or you have your money saved up before starting school. When you want to further your studies but don’t have the means to do so, it can be discouraging and break your spirit. Taking a gap year or leaving school may seem like your only option, but there are always different ways you can finance your studies even when you don’t have money or your family can’t afford it. You can result in getting scholarships, grants or even by creating an account on a crowdfunding website to pay for your tuition and other school needs.


  • Ikenna Odinaka C. is a Writer, Career Development Professional, Entrepreneur, Educator and Investor. He is the founder of AfterschoolAfrica.com, AfterSchoolMedia.com and Edxtra.com. He has also co-founded other businesses in Education, technology and media industry. He is passionate about the future of work, entrepreneurship and helping young people explore opportunities to develop their financial capability. You can read his best content on AfterSchoolMedia.com and watch his insightful videos on YouTube