Paying for College

Families typically pay for college using many resources – income, savings, financial aid, tax breaks and borrowing.

If possible, students should work during the summer and save some of their earnings to help with college expenses. Saving just $1,000 from summer work can help pay for books and other living expenses.


Families often save for their children’s education using Section 529 college savings plans or traditional and Roth IRAs (Individual Retirement Account). Learn more about NextGen 529,™ Maine’s Section 529 Plan.

Financial Aid

Many families pay for a portion of college with financial aid. Financial aid includes scholarships, grants, loans and work-study.

Apply For Scholarships

Be sure to research all sources of financial aid. Visit FAME’s scholarship search, or other sites such as FastWEB or The College Board. It is also important to research civic organizations, parents’ employers, the military, as well as high school guidance offices. Avoid scholarship scams. FREE scholarship search services provide excellent information.

Explore State Level Programs

The State of Maine Office of Family Independence, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, has programs available to help students with dependent children reach their academic goals. Two of these wrap-around support programs are the Parents as Scholars (PaS) program and Higher Opportunities for Pathways to Employment (HOPE). Both provide financial support beyond direct higher education expenses and include a point person to help you navigate and complete a degree program. Information on eligibility and program requirements can be found on the program websites.

Reduce College Costs

Students may be able to reduce overall costs by starting college with some earned credits by taking Advanced Placement classes and community college courses. Sticking to a budget and buying used textbooks can also help stretch limited college funds.

Tuition Payment Plans

Tuition Payment Plans Tuition payment plans allow you to pay your tuition in installments over the semester or year. Most plans are interest-free but may charge a fee.


Many families also borrow to pay for college. Since federal student loans have many benefits including flexible repayment options, they typically should be considered first. Some families also choose to borrow against the equity in their home or to take out private education loans.

FAME developed as Maine’s student loan resource. This website has tools and information to help Maine students and families become more informed about borrowing for higher education, as well as a list of local private student loan options.

Education Tax Breaks

The state of Maine and the federal government offer education tax benefits. Tax credits and deductions can help taxpayers with their expenses for higher education.