7 Ways to Pay Less for College
With the cost of college steadily rising, students and their parents are looking for ways to ease the financial burden. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce college expenses for your child, even if a free-ride scholarship isn’t a possibility.
1. Take college-credit courses in high school.
Pack your child’s high school schedule with advanced placement classes so he/she can start earning college credits now. Students who do well on AP exams may be able to skip general education requirements, which could mean graduating from college early. Some high schools also offer dual-credit courses, allowing students to earn college credit for high school classes or enroll in classes at a local college or university.2. Apply for aid.
Always apply for financial aid even if you think you might not qualify. Even if you make a lot of money, your child may still be granted some assistance depending on your family circumstances. And remember that some assets (like those in retirement plans) aren’t counted when determining federal student aid.3. Start at a community college.
Tuition at two-year community colleges is more affordable than at four-year private and public universities. Many students can save money by beginning their college education at these schools and then transferring to a four-year university to complete their degree. Community college may also be a good option for students who are not sure whether college is right for them or those who are not sure what they want to study. Attending a two-year school offers a more affordable way to explore different fields and can ease the transition from high school to college. However, if your child is considering this option, make sure you understand how and if credits will transfer.4. Stay close to home.
Heading halfway across the country for college is going to be expensive. If your child stays closer to home for school, he/she will spend less on travel and may even be able to live with you, cutting costs even further. Plus, in-state public universities and community colleges are typically cheaper than their out-of-state counterparts.5. Get a job.
College is hard work, but many students benefit from working at least a few hours a week while in school. Consider having your child rely on a part-time job rather than you for spending money. Students may also want to seek out jobs at companies that help pay employees’ college costs.6. Look for scholarships.
Scholarships aren’t just for top athletes and those with perfect SAT scores. There’s money out there for all kinds of students, including those belonging to certain ethnic or religious groups, pursuing certain majors, or attending certain schools. Check with local groups, organizations your child participates in, and even your own employer to see if there are any scholarships offered, and then apply.7. Choose a school that charges no or minimal tuition.
Yes, there are colleges that charge students nothing, or virtually nothing, to attend. While admission to these schools is competitive and won’t be an option for all students, they are worth exploring, especially if you feel college is financially out of reach. The U.S. federal service academies, including West Point and the U.S. Air Force Academy, charge no tuition in exchange for a service commitment after graduation. A number of work colleges allow students to attend for free or a nominal cost in exchange for working on campus. However, keep in mind that despite free or discounted tuition, students may still be responsible for room, board, and other fees.
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