Millions of post-graduates are struggling with debt while millions more potential college students are finding it difficult to secure financing in the first place. Instead of hitting up mom and dad for the money or relying solely on the U.S. government for assistance, here are a few creative ways students have paid for college. You may be able to use these methods yourself, or they may trigger new ideas on how to pay for your higher education.

Clever Ways to Fund Your Education

With these clever and creative methods, you don’t have to rely on rich relatives or favorable government assistance.

  • Participate in cooperative education. This moderately new way of paying your education puts a twist on the age old advice “Get a job to pay your way through school.” Certain companies will specifically hire college students at a higher-than-usual pay rate to help them afford their education. According to Michelle Beaton, Manager of Undergraduate Admissions and Recruitment at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada, cooperative education is an ideal opportunity for students to both fund their education and gain work experience that will serve them well in the future.
  • Get weird scholarships. At this point, you may have applied for traditional scholarships and have come up empty-handed. Don’t give up. Dig a little deeper to find weird scholarships to help pay your way. Some fashion schools offer scholarships to those who can design a prom dress entirely out of duct tape, while others provide scholarships for being able to speak Klingon. If you have a record of community service, you may be able to receive a scholarship specifically for public health masters programs. According to Bruce Perkins, the Director of Admissions at Oklahoma Baptist University, a great way to find unusual scholarships is to obtain a list of the previous year’s graduating class from the guidance counselor. You may just find a scholarship that is perfect for you.
  • Ask strangers for help. Perhaps one of the most daring ways to help pay for school is to seek help from strangers. According to the Huffington Post, some college students have taken to panhandling at busy intersections to pay for school or pay back student loans. Instead of holding signs that say they are hungry or homeless, they say they need help paying for college. If this feels too bold for you, you can seek similar assistance from websites like and
  • Take it to social media. Websites such as Sponsor My Degree or Edulender have made it easy for students to set up profiles that allow people to fund their education. It’s similar to making any type of purchase online, except the money goes into an account students can use to pay for school. Once you’ve set up an account, you can advertise it on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and request gifts and donations from your contacts to help you pay for school. Tell your friends and family why you wish to pursue an online human services degree, and allow them to help you. A comprehensive social media marketing strategy, complete with a blog and interesting content, can make this the only method you need to pay for school. The Fiscal Times, a publication aimed and saving money, states that this crowd funding method of paying for tuition is becoming increasingly popular and effective.
  • Take it to the streets. Do you have a special talent or skill that be parlayed into a street performance? If you play an instrument, do interpretive dance or even have a great sense of humor – you can become a street performer to pay for your education. Simply have a sign that indicates you are trying to pay for school, and you’ll encourage random strangers to contribute to your education. The amount you can earn on a well-populated street may surprise you and help ease your financial woes.

Don’t Let Financial Issues Hold You Back

Realizing that you can’t afford the tuition at your chosen university can be a deterrent to attending college at all. But don’t let financial issues prevent you from pursuing your higher education. Every problem has a solution. Explore the above methods of paying for college to receive your chosen degree and pursue your career goals.

About the Author: Silas Boyd is a contributing writer and full-time college student. He was unable to secure government funding, and his parents were only able to contribute partially. By using a variety of creative techniques, Silas was able to attend college.