One of the most important things you’ll need to do to plan for college is to figure out how you’re going to pay for it. There are many ways to finance an education, and the best method for you will depend on your personal and financial situation.

Financial Aid

Financial aid includes grants, scholarships, and loans, and there are many sources of financial aid out there for students—federal and state programs, private foundations, even corporations.

529s and Other College Savings Plans

Your family may have been saving for your education in a college savings plan, so talk to them and see if they have one and how much is in there. Ideally, they’ll have saved money in the NC 529® plan, since it’s tax-advantaged and you can use the money for almost any education expense. Visit to learn more.

Direct Family Contribution

Your family may be able to help you go to college by paying some or all of your tuition and expenses while you’re there.

Work While Going to School

You can look for a job off-campus that will accommodate your student schedule, or pursue work-study and work on campus or for someone affiliated with the university.

The Military

If you’re interested in a joining the military, there are some generous education incentives available. Students who join ROTC are eligible to win full scholarships to college, while regularly enlisted soldiers qualify for Tuition Assistance and GI Bill benefits. Students can even join the National Guard or Reserves and serve part-time while Tuition Assistance pays for college.