It’s really no surprise that people are looking for free money for college.
The average cost of college tuition and fees in the 2022 to 2023 school year is $39,723 at private colleges, $22,953 for out-of-state students at public schools, and $10,423 for in-state residents at public colleges.
College tuition prices are much higher than they used to be. For example, the average cost for tuition and fees among ranked private National Universities, so schools that are often research-oriented and offer bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, has risen by 134% since 2002.
Many students want financial help with paying for college. Sure, there are student loans, but what many college students want isn’t debt, but free money to help them cover at least some of the cost of their education.
In this post, I’ll cover the best ways that students can get free money. This includes free money to pay for tuition and extra cash you can use just to cover the cost of things, like, well, eating!
What will I learn?
Student Grants, Free College Scholarships & Financial Aid
Here are a few programs (governments, universities, charities, etc.) that aim to help students get grants, scholarships and financial aid for attending college.
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1. Apply for a Grant
Grants provide you with free money to pay for college tuition, and you don’t need to pay it back. Grants are offered either as full tuition coverage or partial tuition coverage. Many places offer grants, such as government organizations, non-profit organizations, and associations.
Here are two main ways that you can get grants:
You can complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, and you’ll be considered for public grants.
There are lots of different grants available, such as the Pell Grant. Amounts for the Pell Grant change yearly. The maximum Federal Pell Grant award is $6,895 for the 2022 to 2023 award year, which is July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023.
Some private universities offer grants. You can learn more about these grants on the enrollment pages of these colleges and universities. Or you can contact universities to inquire.
Some examples of colleges and universities that offer grants include:
Make sure you visit this site to learn more about grants.
2. Use crowdfunding websites
Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by using small amounts of money from a large number of individuals. Crowdfunding typically occurs online, and there are quite a few well-known platforms out there that facilitate it.
Crowdfunding was initially used to raise money for charities, and start-up businesses, but now, students are using it to raise funds to pay for college.
You could consider starting a crowdfunding campaign to help you to get some free money for college.
With crowdfunding, you launch a campaign requesting funds to help you to pay for college. You can share your campaign through social media and spread awareness for it. Then, donors can donate what they can to help you to meet your goal. Crowdfunding is not easy. You need to compel people to donate to your specific campaign.
It’s unlikely that you will be able to raise all the money you need to pay for college, but it can be a good way to get some free money that can help to cover some of the cost of college.
If you want your campaign to be successful, then it’s a good idea to be specific about what the money is going to be used for. So, you may say that you need the money for textbooks or room and board. People want to know where their money is going, so letting people know exactly how you plan to use their donation can help to encourage donations.
Here are some crowdfunding sites you can try:
3. Get tuition-reimbursement from your employer
Some employers offer tuition reimbursement programs. So, they’ll pay for your education.
Employers that have been known to pay for college tuition include:
Home Depot provides tuition reimbursement of up to:
- $6,000 per year for full-time associates.
- $3,000 per year for part-time associates.
- $2,500 per year for your immediate family members.
Amazon has a pre-paid tuition program called the Career Choice program.
Through its Career Choice program, Amazon pays up to 100% of tuition for its hourly employees. In the U.S., the Career Choice program pays full college tuition for employees at hundreds of education partners across the country.
The program funds associate and bachelor’s degrees, and it also funds high school completion, GEDs, and ESL proficiency certifications.
The program is available to Amazon hourly employees who have been employed for 90 days. Employees get access to annual funds for education, as long as they remain at the company, and there’s no limit to the number of years they can benefit.
Outside of the U.S., Career Choice covers 95% of tuition and fees for hourly employees in Canada, the UK, Germany, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Czech Republic, South Africa, Costa Rica, Slovakia, and Australia.
Since the program began in 2012, more than 50,000 Amazon employees around the world have participated in Career Choice and have received training for high-demand occupations, including aircraft mechanics, commercial truck drivers, medical assistants, nurses, computer-aided designers, and more.
If you work at Chipotle, then you could get 100% tuition coverage for select programs, and up to $5,250 for others.
You can learn more about the program by clicking on the link in the section heading.
Corporate tuition reimbursement policies vary a lot from company to company. So, check to see if your employer provides this benefit. If not, consider finding an employer that does offer tuition reimbursement.
4. Join the military
Those in the military can get free money for college. If the military is a career path that appeals to you, then this is a good way to get help paying for college.
Here are some ways that you can get free money to cover the cost of college if you’re in the military:
The GI Bill has been around since 1944. It helps qualifying veterans and their family members cover all or some of the costs of school or training.
There’s also a Montgomery GI Bill for active-duty members, and a Post-9/11 GI Bill for those who served on active duty after September 10, 2001.
Military Tuition Assistance Programs
The military also offers yearly tuition assistance. This varies but can be up to $4,500 a year. There’s no one site I can link to for more details, unfortunately. Instead, you’ll need to check with your military branch for specifics.
5. Get a scholarship
Scholarships provide students with another way to get free money for college. With a scholarship, you get free money to go to school. You don’t need to pay it back either.
A scholarship is a type of financial support that’s awarded to a student. There are lots of different types of scholarships. The two most common types are merit-based and need-based.
Typically, scholarships are awarded using a variety of factors, such as academic achievement, departmental and community involvement, employment experience, areas of study, and financial need.
There are lots of different scholarships available, and the qualifications for each one varies.
Some scholarships are sports-based, for example, and others are given to those who are gifted in mathematics. There are even state scholarships available to those who excel in high school.
- You can learn more about scholarships here.
6. Attend a tuition-free school
If you want free money for college, then going to a college that doesn’t charge for tuition is a great idea. This can net you $1,000s in free money that you otherwise would have spent on your college tuition.
We have a post about getting a degree for free, so have a read of that here.
Tips for Getting Free Money in College
Above, I’ve given you lots of options for getting free money for college. In this section, I want to give you some tips you can use to bring in some extra money for college.
These tips likely won’t make you enough money to cover all of your tuition or college costs, but they can help to cover some of the costs of your education and your living expenses while you’re in college.
So, you could make some extra money to pay for your college textbooks, cover some of your tuition costs, or even just some money for a coffee before class. Any extra money you can get while you’re in college helps!
Here are a few easy ways to make money in college.
7. Complete tasks on reward sites
Reward websites pay you for doing tasks from your phone or computer. Reward websites are also known as get paid to, or GPT, websites, and they’ll pay you for completing tasks, such as:
- Playing games
- Browsing the internet
- Taking surveys
- Watching videos
- Trying new apps
- Shopping online
- Completing offers
- Reading emails
For doing tasks, reward sites will give you points that you can redeem for money or gift cards, and others give you money or gift cards from the outset.
Many reward websites will pay you right to your PayPal account, so you can use the cash for whatever you need. You can also get gift cards for popular retailers like Amazon, Starbucks, and Walmart. So, if you need some textbooks from Amazon, or you often get coffee from Starbucks, then this is a great way to earn some free money to spend at these retailers.
Here are some good reward websites:
8. Take surveys
You can also get paid to take surveys online or even from your phone. This is a good way to bring in a little extra cash for college. Many survey sites pay you to your PayPal account, by bank transfer, or with a gift card.
Here are some survey sites you could try:
9. Scan your receipts
Next time you go to a store, be sure to keep your receipt. Receipt scanning apps actually pay you for uploading your receipts. Just upload photos of your receipts to a website or app that pays you for your receipts.
While doing this won’t make you a ton of money, it does give you free money which is always good to have when you’re in college.
Here are some apps that pay you for your receipts:
With some apps, all you need to do to get paid is upload a photo of your receipt. However, other apps, like Ibotta and Checkou51, require you to purchase specific items in order to get paid.
For example, there might be an offer available where you can get $2 back when you purchase Bounty paper towels. So, you’d need to purchase the paper towels and scan your receipt to show that you’ve purchased them. Then, you’ll get a rebate.
Other apps, like Receipt Hog and ReceiptPal, don’t require you to purchase any specific products. Instead, these apps will just pay you for any itemized receipt.
10. Use cashback websites
If you do a lot of shopping online, then make sure that you use cashback websites.
These websites give you money when you purchase stuff online. You just visit the cashback site, select the store that you want to shop at, and then purchase stuff as you normally would. Then, you’ll get a percentage of the money that you spent back. This could be 5% cashback at Amazon for example.
Here are some good cashback websites:
This is a good way for you to get free money for college just for doing something, shopping online, which you already do anyway.
11. Pick up an online side hustle
If you want some extra money for college, it can be a good idea to pick up an online side hustle. This can allow you to make some money during your downtime.
Here are a few side hustle ideas:
- Freelance writing: Find work on sites like Textbroker, UpWork and PeoplePerHour.
- Data entry: Find work on sites like UpWork and Clickworker.
- Virtual assistant work: Read our post on how to become a virtual assistant.
- Transcription work: Find work on sites like Tigerfish, TranscribeMe, and CastingWords.
- Proofreading and editing: Check out our list of proofreading and editing jobs.
12. Do some gig work near you
Another option is to pick up some gig work near you. You could do this after class or during the weekends, or even during the summer break.
Here are some gigs you could consider to make extra money:
- Work as a rideshare driver for companies like Uber and Lyft.
- Do some pet-sitting work on Pet-Sitter .com, Rover, and PetBacker
- Deliver food with apps like DoorDash, UberEats, and GrubHub.
- Deliver packages with Amazon Flex.
- Deliver groceries with apps like Instacart and Shipt.
- Run errands with TaskRabbit.
- Be a dog walker on sites like Wag! and Tailster.
There are plenty of ways for students to get free money for college, such as by getting a grant, launching a crowdfunding campaign, or getting a scholarship.
There are also lots of ways college students can bring in free money, like scanning their receipts, using cashback websites when they shop online, or picking up a side hustle.
If you want free money for college, make sure that you try the options and follow the tips on our list above.