Alternatives to Student Loans

Before borrowing money to pay for school, exhaust all alternative funding sources available. When developing a college funding strategy that includes scholarships, grants, and more traditional forms of student aid, consider the following options to cover educational costs.

Tuition Installment Plans– An installment plan allows a parent or student to break up the tuition balance by paying the amount due over a specific period. The short-term payment plan allows families who are unable to make one lump sum payment cover the cost of their educational fees prior to the end of the semester or academic year. Paying the full balance in increments also allows students to maintain their course load and keep their student account current. Most academic institutions will charge a nominal fee (less than $25) to enroll in a tuition payment plan.

Crowdfunding– Crowdfunding is simply a method of raising small amounts of money to fund a project or venture. This requires the student to appeal to a network of individuals to amass capital. Students can reach out to friends, extended family and their supporters by fundraising online on various crowdfunding platforms (Plumfund, etc.).  Students may seek donations from their supporters to cover the cost of tuition, books, housing, and other college-related expenses.

Fellowships – This is a monetary award given to a student for advanced studies in a specific academic discipline. These merit-based awards are often available to students pursuing graduate or postgraduate coursework. Students may seek fellowship opportunities from sponsoring organizations (academic institutions, non-profits, foundations, etc.). Note that fellowships often require service commitments that may last for a predetermined period (months, years, etc.).

Assistantships– Students seeking a graduate degree can receive a paid academic appointment that requires teaching or conducting research. Financial support is provided to students who engage in various tasks that support the functions of academic units within the educational setting.

Tuition Reimbursement/Tuition Assistance Plans – A tuition assistance program is an employee benefit through which an employer pays for an established amount of continuing education credits or college coursework to be applied toward a degree or certification. Many big box retailers, national banks, and healthcare systems offer tuition reimbursement for hourly and entry level positions.  However, organizations large and small with a commitment to increased educational attainment often offer their employees tuition assistance benefits. Organizations are beginning to increase their educational benefits as they see the positive impact they can have on their business. Therefore, choose your employer wisely.

Volunteering with AmeriCorps–  Upon completion of a term of service, students participating in AmeriCorps programs can earn education awards worth up to the maximum Federal Pell Grant for a year of full-time service. Individuals age 55 or older can earn a $1,000 education award through the AmeriCorps Silver Scholars program and transfer it to a child, grandchild or foster child. Learn more about AmeriCorps here: To apply for an AmeriCorps position with Earn to Learn FL visit: .

Note-taking Strategies for Success

Students must engage in active learning and accept that learning is always an interactive process. Correspondingly, taking good notes require students to be fully engaged in their education. Once a student has mastered effective notetaking, they will find that their academic performance improves. The tips below can assist students in becoming an effective notetaker.

  • Decide what note-taking method works best for your learning style. Examples include the Cornell Method and Concept Maps.
  • If a mobile device is permitted in the classroom, consider using a mobile application. Examples include Evernote, Microsoft OneNote, Apple Notes, and Google Keep .
  • Sit in the front of the class. In order to take good notes, you must see and hear clearly.
  • Transcribe or write down important concepts in your own words.
  • Date and title each set of notes.
  • Engage in active reading. Do not just highlight words. Instead, jot down keywords and their definitions.
  • During or after a lecture, ask for clarification. If you fear you did not hear a portion of the lecture or need further assistance to grasp concepts, raise your hand and ask the lecturer to expound on the information previously shared.
  • Pay attention to the instructor’s verbal cues. Watch for lists  including, but not limited to  “the following 3 steps” or “the 3 major causes” and listen closely  for summaries signaled by words such as “consequently” or “hence”.
  • Jot down the information you can’t obtain elsewhere. The slideshow presentation includes an overview of topics and basic concepts, but you will want to capture  the important points the speaker verbally shares with the audience.
  • Make it visual. Include images, symbols, or diagrams to aid your understanding.
  • Clarify diagrams by writing down their meaning or the major takeaways.
  • Take notes in complete thoughts, but use familiar abbreviations and symbols to save time.
  • Review your notes after class and immediately address any gaps in your notes by reviewing course literature.
  • Include important examples and questions you may have at the time.
  • Exchange and discuss notes with your classmates.
  • Create flash cards from your notes for use during future study sessions.

For further assistance and more student success tips, contact us at Earn to Learn FL.

Transient Student Basics

Transient students are students presently enrolled at one postsecondary institution while choosing to take a course at another college or university. The end goal is to take the course credits completed at the host institution back to the home institution. This is a strategy used by many students to advance their academic plan.

Prior to becoming a transient student, review the following information to ensure you are aware of the participation requirements and your responsibilities:

  • Transient students are non-degree seeking students. If you are seeking a degree program and ultimately postsecondary credentials from the host  institution, you are instead a transfer student.
  • Transient students enroll at the host institution for a finite period. Typically, the host institution will permit the guest student to register for a single semester at a time.
  • Await final approval of the transient student request prior to registering at the host institution. Both the home and host institution must approve your request.
  • If attending a state-funded institution in Florida, you may complete a transient form on the Florida Shines website .
  • Students attending out-of-state schools or private institutions in Florida, must contact the Registrar’s Office at their home institution to inquire about the transient student process.
  • Institutions often require their students complete a certain percentage of coursework at the home institution. Students must familiarize themselves with the school’s requirements to ensure all transient courses will apply to their degree completion plan.
  • Students are unable to receive federal student aid at two institutions simultaneously. Therefore, students are financially liable for courses taken at another institution and must pay the course fees at the host institution. Likewise, residency is determined by the residency status at the student’s home institution.
  • The desired course at the host institution may have prerequisites. Therefore, it is prudent to consult with an academic advisor and seek approval for registration.
  • Transient student enrollment is subject to the availability of faculty, space and facilities. Plan a semester ahead to secure a seat in the desired course.
  • Upon course completion at the host institution, students must ensure their transcripts are sent to their home institution.
  • Enrollment as a non-degree seeking transient student does not imply a right to future admission as a regular student.

For further assistance and more student success tips, contact us at Earn to Learn FL.