Paying for college tuition, textbooks, and other expenses can seem overwhelming, especially when considering how many years you will be attending school. To get your college career started worry free, consider some of these smart ways to get your financial costs covered so you can focus on getting your degree.

Free Aid

Before the school year begins, be sure to fill out the FAFSA, the Free Application for Student Aid. That’s right, it’s free! The FAFSA will tell you whether or not you are eligible for grants and loans from the government. The FAFSA should be submitted annually and as early as possible to give you the best chance at receiving the most aid..

Once you have completed the FAFSA, another way to get financial aid is through scholarships and grants from outside sources. Check out your university’s financial aid website or schedule an appointment with a financial advisor at your school to see what kinds of scholarships and grants they can offer you. For more aid resources, talk to an advisor at your current school or check out some of these websites where you can apply for scholarships:

Student Loans

Student loans are a great way to cover your college tuition and textbook expenses without having to worry about money. The best part about student loans is that you don’t have to start paying until after you have graduated. The FAFSA will tell you which student loans you qualify for from the government. Find it all a little confusing? Don’t worry—Student Financial Services at La Sierra University is here to help!

If you are looking for more student loans, talk to your local bank. Many banks offer student loans with affordable repayment plans and low interest rates. Make an appointment with an advisor at your bank to receive more information on the kinds of student loans they offer.

Part-time Job

This one is a no-brainer. Having a part-time job while going to school is a smart way to pay for tuition and expenses while you are in school. It can be hard finding a job if you are like most first-time college students who do not have much work experience. Luckily, most colleges offer part-time student positions on campus. Call or go online to the Human Resources webpage to find out what positions are available to students.

If you are applying for a job on campus, consider applying for a Federal Work-Study program. A Work-Study program will allow you to attend school and work to pay for your tuition and textbooks. To determine whether or not you are eligible, complete the FAFSA online. This is an excellent way to have your college expenses covered while building your resume.

Rent or Buy Used

Textbook expenses easily rack up, especially when you are taking a full load of classes. The best way to save money on textbooks is to rent, or if you need to buy, buy used. Ask the university bookstore if they offer renting or sell used textbooks. Sites such as Amazon Student, Chegg, and Barnes & Noble also offer affordable textbook rental and used options to help save you money.

Another option is to ask students who may have taken the course if you can buy textbooks or borrow textbooks from them. If you do buy, many sites and university stores will buy the books back from you if they are in an acceptable condition. If not, consider selling them on campus by posting signs to alert those who may be taking the course in the future.

However you choose to pay for college, be sure to have your financial plan settled before the school year, so that you can focus on achieving your goals and having the best college experience possible.