Best Practices for Paying for College

Education after high school can be a great investment in your future, but it can also be challenging to cover the costs. There are numerous resources from the state and federal governments that you can take advantage of to help with your expenses. What are the best practices you can follow to get the most out of your college experience?

Fill out the FAFSA – The first step in finding financial assistance for college is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. The FAFSA asks you and your parents to answer various income and asset questions and indicate which college or career technology center you may be interested in attending. All of this data is forwarded to the schools you’ve chosen and calculated to determine your eligibility for financial aid. The 2023-24 FAFSA is currently available and can be completed at if you plan to attend college this fall. If you’ll be a graduating senior in 2024, you’ll want to complete your FAFSA in Dec. 2023. The FAFSA is free and easier to fill out than ever.

Search for scholarships – There are thousands of scholarships available to students from a variety of categories. Search the internet for scholarships based on your academic interests, activities, hobbies, and even ethnicity. These scholarships all require different qualifications and application processes, so pay close attention and don’t forget to send in all information needed. Check out these websites for scholarships that may work for you:

Apply for Oklahoma’s Promise – The Oklahoma’s Promise Scholarship program pays tuition for eligible students at Oklahoma’s public higher education institutions, and a portion of tuition at accredited private colleges and universities or approved programs at public technology centers. Some of the eligibility requirements include:

  • Must be an Oklahoma resident.
  • Must enroll in the 8th, 9th, 10th or 11th grade.
  • Must be a student whose parents’ federal adjusted gross income does not exceed:
    • $60,000 with 1 or 2 dependent children OR
    • $70,000 with 3 or 4 dependent children OR
    • $80,000 with 5 or more dependent children.

Learn more and apply today!

Have a savings plan – A 529 college savings plan is a state-sponsored investment plan that enables you to save money for a beneficiary’s educational expenses. When you’re ready to use the money for higher education, you can withdraw it tax-free so it maximizes your investment. Learn more at Oklahoma 529.

Take advantage of financial aid – After completing the FAFSA, you’ll be notified of the federal and state financial aid for which you qualify from the schools you listed on your application. These are the types of aid available:

  • Grants
    • Pell Grant
    • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
    • Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
    • TEACH Grant
    • Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant
  • College Work-Study
  • Federal Student Loans
    • Subsidized student loan
    • Unsubsidized student loan
    • Parent PLUS loan

Learn about each type of financial aid here.

Follow these best practices, and you will be well on your way to making college more affordable. For more FAFSA tips, scholarship resources, and college planning advice, visit