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Two Students Get Creative With Paying for College

Students are finding new ways to fund their education.

Tamia Heard

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Figuring out how to pay for college can be stressful. For two college students, the process was made much easier by thinking outside the box.

Jessie Baren, a recent graduate from the University of Michigan, managed to find a way to through college without needing financial aid. The communications major from Los Angeles became a campus rep for Fresh Prints, a custom apparel company, during his freshman year of college. Baren was the link between students and Fresh Prints whenever their campus organizations needed personalized apparel. He helped design and order apparel for various events; eventually building a consistent customer base of 100 campus clubs.

As a part of his contract, Baren was taking in a 7 percent cut of all of his sales with a 3% raise per semester. He earned almost $100,000. According to Baren, the gig brought in so much money that he was able to afford to pay his out-of-state tuition, accept non-paying internships, and still have money left over!

Over 30 hours away at a small liberal arts and sciences college, Chardonnay Hightower-Collins was also getting creative with financing her way through college.

Hightower-Collins started planning for her college future in the eighth grade when she joined College Track. College Track is an Oakland, California based program for students in underserved communities who are aiming to complete college. The program consists of tutoring, counseling, academic-based financial rewards for students to put towards college. Hightower-Collins worked with counselors in the program to develop a plan that would cover her $30,000 yearly tuition as well as other costs.

Throughout her time at Mills College, she received a renewable $17,500 scholarship and various other scholarship awards that she applied for. For Hightower-Collins, applying for off-the-radar awards was one way to help alleviate the cost of college each year. She also took on a work-study position which helped her bring in a little more cash each semester. The most exciting way Hightower-Collins cut the cost of her education was by participating in a study abroad program during her junior year. She was able to save $15,000 on tuition by spending the semester in Havana, Cuba.

Paying for college does not always mean paying everything in full. Students can find ways to cut the cost of their education to make it less of a burden. The key is to research. Look for ways that other students might not be taking advantage of. Whether that means printing t-shirts for a sorority bid day or taking a semester abroad, if it makes paying for college easier it may be worth a try.

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Tamia Heard is a rising senior at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Tamia is majoring in communication studies with a journalism concentration. As a southern woman, she enjoys Saturday's filled with college football and good food!

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