Getting into a good college has only gotten more expensive over the past decade and, with the costs rising so dramatically, you may begin to wonder if a traditional four-year program is even worth the sizable investment.
College may not be for everyone but for those who have designs on a higher education, the prospect of spending as much as six figures can be daunting. That’s why it’s so important to find ways to save some money when it comes to paying for college. While it’s not an easy thing to identify these saving methods, they do exist. Here are five that you should keep in mind before those applications are filled out and sent in.
- The Application Process
Before you even set foot on a campus, you’re being asked to pay anywhere from $35-100 just to apply to the school! This goes for internet course as well. Rutgers Online, as an example, charges $73 for their MBA course application. For some students, this can become a very expensive part of the education process. No one just applies to a single school, either, and sending applications to 10 or 11 of them can easily set you back a cool grand without any guarantee of entry.
But you can save some money here by building an application strategy that limits it to just four or five schools, including your so-called “safety school.” Ask about fee waivers from your target schools or high school counselor and have a look at the over 200 schools that don’t charge a fee to apply.
- Tuition Assistance Programs
No, I’m not talking about financial aid or taking out a student loan that will have you mired in debt until you’re 65 years old. There are actually programs that will offer to guarantee your tuition costs if you maintain a high grade point average. One of these is AmericanHonors.org and they will dramatically lower your schooling costs at universities such as Auburn, George Mason, and University of Arizona, among others. There are specific terms and conditions that come with the program, but the costs of attending a school through their organization is much more affordable.
- Community College
Many students attend a local community college for a year or two to earn enough general education credits during that time before transferring over to a larger four-year program where they ultimately intend to graduate. This is a great way to save some money on the school you want to attend while still receiving the quality of education you’re hoping to attain.
- Take AP Courses in High School
Some colleges will recognize the advanced placement classes you took in high school for qualifying credit. The more college credits you have before you attend college, the earlier you can graduate from that institution. This, in turn, will lower your eventual costs at a four-year program and might even allow you to leave enough money in your pocket to put towards post-graduate courses.
- Look for Scholarships
You don’t have to be a star receiver or heavily recruited running back to get those all important college scholarships to the school of your choice. There are plenty of programs available for students who excel off the football field or basketball court. But be sure to start early; a high school freshman who begins seeking out available opportunities immediately has a greater chance of earning more money in scholarships than another student who pursues this avenue later on. You can find a variety of online scholarship databases and informational resources to get you started.