QUALITY education is an investment that doesn’t come cheap. Not everyone has the privilege of being awarded a scholarship or is from a well-off family. When you want to further your studies but don’t have the means to do so it can be discouraging and break your spirit. Taking a gap year may seem like your only option, but there are ways you can finance your studies.CONSIDER YOUR OPTIONS Not everyone who is pursuing a higher education has a bursary or a scholarship and not everyone has their parents paying for their tuition fees. Anele Chonco, a business and life coach based in Sandton, says if you are already accepted in university or college, there’s no reason for you to sit at home and wait until you secure a bursary. She says you can pay for your education by taking on a part-time job or using your hobby to make money. “It’s possible to work and study at the same time, you can find a weekend or part-time job that allows you to work after hours,” Anele advises. “You might want to think of turning your hobby into a money-making business, and open a bank account to safely tuck away your profits.” She advises that you consider the job market and cost of your tuition fees before bounding yourself to any commitments. She says once you determine the cost factor, you will get a sense of direction and know exactly how much you need to save up for your tuition fees and other study material.WAYS TO PAY FOR YOUR FEES If you are already working, you stand a better chance of securing financial aid. Accountant Hlalanathi Ntshingila says even if your company can’t help you pay for your fees, you can use your payslip to apply for a study loan. Below are some of the ways you can pay for your fees: Student loan – Most banks offer student loans. To qualify, you need to earn a certain amount or have your parents sign as your surety. You need to pay a monthly interest fee of up to 15 per cent.Bank loan – This option is ideal for short-term or part-time studies. Once the bank loan is approved, the money is allocated to you. It’s your responsibility to pay the fees and buy study materials.Company training – Most firms believe in upskilling their employees and invest in their education. Your company will most probably pay for your fees. Approach your Human Resource manager and find out what options your existing company has.Bursary – You can still try and apply for a bursary or scholarship while working and studying. A bursary will give you a peace of mind, but requires that you maintain a certain standard of results. If you find a company bursary, you might have to work for them after completing your study programme.Scholarships – This form of financial aid is awarded to deserving students based on the donor’s values and criteria. Athletics, academic and merit scholarships are some common forms of scholarships. You can receive a scholarship if you exceed a company’s criteria of excellence. The scholarship is not to be paid back.Starting a business – If working for someone is not ideal for you, you can start a small enterprise. Start small and be economical about it. Remember that the aim is to make money as fast as possible to finance your studies. OTHER ALTERNATIVES There’s always a way out of any situation, and you can still make it even if you didn’t get a job or make it in varsity. You can start at the bottom and work your way up to great heights. For instance, if you couldn’t make it in varsity, you can do a bridging course with a community Further Education Training (FET) college. Anele describes noncultural institutions such as FET colleges and community colleges as a stepping stone to beginning a career, and making it to varsity in the near future. “If you want to be an engineer and your marks are the reason why you can’t make it in varsity and secure a bursary, you can start with a bridging course at an FET college,” she says. She explains that studying in a community college doesn’t pose as a disadvantage in the working world. She says there’s no difference between two individuals, one holding a university qualification and the other a college certificate. She says the two individuals would be viewed as being qualified in different areas. She says you can find a job with your certificate and use the money to pay for your university qualification. “Colleges give you a great balance of theory and practical and you can use that to your advantage because you would be experienced. You can get accredited for some courses when you go to some universities,” she says.