Earning a hospitality degree is a smart move to segue smoothly into a career in hotel or restaurant management, but you’ll first need to pay for school. This is no easy feat thanks to the steadily increasing price tag on a college education. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, students spend an average of $15,022 at public universities and $39,173 at private non-profit colleges each academic year. Along with tuition, most students need to afford room and board, textbooks, supplies, academic fees, and meal plans. Luckily, there are several different funding options available to help pursue your hospitality degree without breaking the bank.

Federal and Private Loans

Many hospitality majors depend on loans to pay for school. In America, the federal government allows students to borrow money through Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Direct PLUS Loans, and Federal Perkins Loans. Depending on certain factors, undergraduate students can utilize loans to cover up to $12,500 of tuition each year. Federal loans usually have lower interest rates, but private loans are another alternative for hospitality students. However, it’s important that you borrow carefully to avoid drowning in student loan debt after you receive your hospitality degree.

University Financial Aid

Even though tuition is high, universities want to remove financial barriers to the classroom by providing financial aid packages to their matriculated students. University financial aid is given directly from students’ intended colleges on the basis of academic merit or need. Financial aid refers to awards granted specifically to individual students after they’ve been admitted. Incoming students will need to file the FAFSA form on time because universities also use this information in providing financial aid. Contact your school’s financial aid office to learn which funding you’re eligible for.

Scholarships and Grants

Free money can also be found for hospitality students through scholarships and grants. Unlike loans, this funding won’t need to be repaid when you’re finished with school. The federal government offers the Pell Grant and FSEOG Grant to financially needy students, but you can also find grants given by your state or university. Scholarships are abundant in the hospitality industry if you stay on top of deadlines. For instance, the American Hotel & Lodging Education Foundation provides nine scholarships annually to hospitality majors. Tourism Cares also offers more than 50 awards for up to $4,000 apiece for studying hospitality.

Work-Study Programs

If you still have unmet financial need, you may want to consider enrolling in the Federal Work-Study (FWS) program at your university. Work-study programs provide part-time employment to college students needing extra money to afford tuition. Hospitality majors can be a good fit for working on-campus in dining services or student housing. You’ll earn at least the federal minimum wage, but many work-study jobs offer better pay. Work-study programs are popular because they’re flexible for easy course scheduling, but working off-campus in a restaurant or hotel can be profitable too.

Although affording college is tough, a hospitality degree is worth the investment in building the business acumen and interpersonal skills you’ll need to succeed. With your education, you’ll have a better chance of advancing into the highest-paying hospitality jobs. Take advantage of the above available funding to pay for school and steer towards your goals in hospitality management.