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The Smart Approach to Paying for College: Free, Cheap, Gap

Going to college is a new and exciting time of life, but it can also be expensive. Navigating the financial aid process can be challenging, however, the Free/Cheap/Gap approach can help you figure out the most cost-effective way to pay for college.


The best kind of money is free money because it does not need to be repaid. Applying for scholarships and grants are a great way to get free money. You can also continue to apply for scholarships even after you’ve arrived at college for ongoing expenses like books, housing, and other costs. 


The next step is to look for money to borrow that has cheap repayment terms. Federal student loans are easy to apply for and usually have competitive interest rates. You can also check with your college to see if they have a tuition installment plan, which allows you to break up your tuition into multiple payments and usually have a reasonable up-front fee with no interest.


Gap money is what you need to make up the difference between what you owe and what you can account for through free and cheap money. Private student loans are one of the easiest ways to get that covered. DCCU has partnered with Sallie Mae to offer a variety of student loan options for both the undergraduate and the graduate level. 

The Free/Cheap/Gap approach is a great way to make sure you have a plan to pay for college. Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a good place to start for both free and cheap money. You can also click here to learn more about DCCU’s scholarship programs.