Sure, we all are in the know of the usual cookie-cutter ways that help lessen the skyrocketing college tuition fees – you can cross your fingers for scholarships and hope for beneficial loans and grants through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). However, securing a momentous scholarship is truly a highly competitive concern among the ‘cream of the crop’ with the best ACT/SAT scores. What of the best grants? They’re primarily reserved for those who are most distressed with extraordinary circumstances.

Come to think of it – what about the rest of us? We have to think outside our own confines…

Well, you don’t have to be a valedictorian for you to afford college. Below are five unusual ways to pay for college and they just might help you pass up a mountain of debt:

1. Residency

Do you know that you can earn in-state tuition in your current state of residence? Find out if you are a viable candidate.

The in-state residency tuition fund is first at bat when it comes to brilliant ways for you to pay for college. Why? In case you are an out-of-state college student, you can couple it with a number of the other unusual ways to pay for college in our listing. This actually leads to a bigger return on investment for the time you spend.

Case in point – you can make efforts to get in-state residency while you complete a gap-year. You might realize that you not only save your money in the course of the gap time, but you may be in a position to join or return to college with the in-state tuition fund, as well as residency. Win-win situation for you!

Most students aren’t conscious of the fact that if one manages to attain state residency in the realm of a college, then one is entitled to the in-state tuition fund. The fund averages about $52,000 in regard to the total cost difference over the due course of a four-year college education program (reference).

Do you hold a special liking for the state? That is, do you visualize moving there with or without college enrollment? Or are you moving solely for college and planning to make a shift again soon as you have your degree in hand? If the reason is the latter, then residency might not be for you. On the flipside, if you have an honest intent to plant your flag, then you just might be a great candidate and you might want to make an effort to be well-versed with the college’s residency process. You should keep in mind that there are drastic variations in the rules depending on the state and college.

In-State Angels is an all-encompassing resource to delve into earning in-state tuition. On the site, you’ll freely find general info, school-specific, and state-specific information, as well as the time and energy saving products and services that are offered for further assistance.

2. The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP)

Pay attention for this is a very interesting yet lesser recognized of the unusual ways for you to pay for your college program. The CLEP is actually a sister to Advanced Placement (AP) courses that students enroll for college credits.

However, CLEP is offered to any student with no prerequisites required to partake. The program offers dozens of examinations in an array of preparatory, college-level subjects (i.e. Biology, Introductory Sociology, Financial Accounting, American Literature, Calculus, Spanish etc.).

If you pass the course exam, you can get a hold of about 3 to 12 college credits for each passed exam. You are in a position to freely prepare for the exam. The testing centers are all over the country, as well as international testing centers. Each examination is administered through a computer and all for a charge of about $80 per exam.

If you fail an exam, you will be subject to a 6-month wait period before you can retake the exam. In actuality, through the CLEP – a studious and dedicated teenager, just like you, can attain a high school graduation already having completed his or her college prerequisite course, if not attained an Associate’s Degree… and at a much reduced cost as compared to attaining the same credits in the due course of a 2-year college attendance. Have a look at this high school student who achieved an associate’s degree, as well as a bachelor’s degree by the time he was graduating from high school.

In case you are considering earning your college credits via the College-Level Examination program, you should know that every college is different. You might first want to cross-reference with a preferable college to be certain that your credits will transfer and that they are needed for your major. You can learn more about the CLEP here.

3. Crowdfunding

Yes, could you believe that there are lots of people out there who are willing to grant you money… for free!

So, take the initiative to share your story. No harm in pleading your case. Simply, all you have to do is ask others for help – just as a person out for a good deed would.

To date, crowdfunding platforms have managed to raise billions of dollars. What does this mean for students who look forward to enroll for college? You might want to take your time to simply ask for money from family, friends, alumni, and even from strangers. Go Fund Me is among the best crowdfunding platforms around. There are plenty other crowdfunding platforms and you can find a couple of these here.

A word of caution though – if you have plans to appeal for residency and the in-state tuition fund at a college, then you have to be sure that the college allows you to receive funds, or even gifts, through crowdfunding. Are you unsure if your college warrants this or not when it involves earning residency? You might want to confirm this with your college. Check out this handy map for a quick glance of the state-by-state financial requirements – it summarizes things quite impressively.

4. International Studies

This perhaps is among the most unusual ways to pay for college… but, why? It’s so brilliant.

A vast majority of students opt to partake in study-abroad programs. Why not broaden that quite a bit and enjoy an indomitable outside-the-box experience while you earn your degree for much less, if not free?

Case in point – in Germany, there’s free higher education for students. This extends to international students too! So, instead of going through the hustle to pay for your tuition, you’d only have to pay for flight expenses, board, room, and other miscellaneous day-to-day expenses. What’s more? You may even benefit from free healthcare depending on the country and your school of choice.

The only words of caution here – you have to do your due diligence. For example, you might want to ensure that your school of choice, abroad, offers credits that will have no problem transitioning back smoothly to your country – say the United States – and to double-check that the school offers classes in English. Make an effort to scope out the college’s application process, their acceptance requirements, and be certain that the school is an accredited learning institution.

Want to find a study abroad program? Check out these quick techniques you can use.

5. Non-Traditional Year

Remember the traditional straight-to-college just three months after graduating from high school approach? Well, forget it! … Take a productive Gap-Year or a community college stint into consideration.

Students who enroll in community college pay less, maintain no breaks in their studies and earn credits that transfer to a university. A good number of universities permit one year deferrals in case you wish to take the year off or even attend community college.

You absolutely might want to be certain of the credits that will transition back smoothly. All in all, community college is a remarkable way for you to rack up requisites – and at a lower cost.

When it comes to a Gap-Year, there are various routes you can take:

  • Take that year off and laze on your mom’s couch – this isn’t the normally accepted option
  • If you have plans to attend an in-state university right after your gap, you probably have the whole year to work – you could earn income, get an internship in your field of study, perhaps travel, or maybe just take the time to figure out the actual field of study you wish to pursue.
  • If you have plans to attend an out-of-state university right after your gap, then you have to make a strong consideration of whether you should move to the destination you chose for the Gap-Year. You can get to know and enjoy the area, get you a job and earn income you otherwise wouldn’t have, conduct informational interviews to be certain you are content with your choice of major, and turn it a fruitful year.