There is no doubt: college is expensive. However, rather than give up the idea of going to college altogether, it may be time to explore different ways to reduce the cost of tuition.
Use these ideas to lower the cost of your college education so that it becomes affordable for you.
Enroll In Community College
The cost of enrolling in a community college can be significantly less than the cost of attending a 4-year public college and much, much lower than that of attending a 4-year private college. Now that is some serious savings right there. Enrolling in community college is one of the most popular ways to reduce the overall cost of college tuition.
Consider Using The Two-Step Option
Many students graduate from community college as a starting point to complete the mandatory two-year general education classes. After you’ve completed your two years, you can then transfer to 4-year universities where you can earn your bachelor’s degree in the field of your choosing. Studying in a community college just for those two years, can reduce your overall cost of tuition drastically and is well worth it.
Do An Exhaustive Scholarship Search to Reduce Costs
Start early and spend as much time as possible exploring all the scholarship opportunities available to you. Don’t leave any stone unturned in your search for scholarships. There are numerous opportunities out there, you just need to look for them. The beauty of scholarship awards is that there are no limits to how many you can accept, so don’t hesitate. Look for scholarships under all kinds of categories—athletics, music, academics, and just about anything you can thing of—and apply to all opportunities that you qualify for.
Explore Merit-Based Aid Availability
It’s definitely worth getting in touch with your school’s Financial Aid Office to find out if they have any provisions for offering merit-based aid. Some colleges reserve funds for students who excel in certain fields, whether it is a specific academic area, a certain sport, athletics, or any other. If you meet that college’s criteria, you may be entitled to pursue merit-based aid.
Check If The College Offers Sibling Discounts
Many colleges offer generous discounts on tuition if you have siblings who are already enrolled in their program. If you are planning on attending the same school as your other siblings, it’s definitely worth looking into.
Look Into Tuition Waivers
Most colleges offer tuition waivers if you come under a certain category. Depending on the category you come under and the individual college’s policy, you may pay highly discounted tuition fees or in some cases, your fees may be waived completely.
The most common tuition waivers are offered to veterans, teachers, Peace Corps workers, and dependents of higher education employees. Children of firefighters, police personnel, and other civil service workers are also granted tuition waivers.
Enroll In A College With Fixed Rate Tuition Plans
Several colleges and universities have introduced attractive programs known as fixed-rate tuition. These programs lock in the cost of tuition across the entire undergraduate program so you are not subjected to any hike in tuition fees. This means you pay the exact same tuition fee amount every year in college, from your first year to the last. You may need to meet some eligibility criteria so be sure to ask. Considering college fees go up every year, attending a college with a fixed-rate tuition plan can add up to considerable savings.
Consider Graduating Early
Did you know that some colleges offer accelerated degree programs? Students who choose this option complete all the courses necessary for graduation over a period of three years instead of the conventional four years. You will have to sacrifice all your free time and study even harder to cram the four-year curriculum within three years, but if you can do it, it is well worth it. Not only will you save on tuition fees but you will also save on one year of rent, food, transportation and all other miscellaneous costs.
Declare Your Career Path To The College
If you have made up your mind about your college major and your career path, and if it is in a high-need field, it is a good idea to inform your college about your intentions. A high-need field is one that has a pressing need of qualified professionals. Some colleges have programs in place where they pay a small or large part of a student’s tuition fees for a certain number of years if the student agrees to work in certain specified field after graduating.
Look Into Tuition Reimbursement Programs
Many employers are participating in tuition reimbursement programs wherein they pay a large part or sometimes all of their employees’ tuition fees, provided that the field of study is one that will boost their productivity and profits. There are a few conditions that apply, but it is worth looking into.
Handle Your Student Loans Responsibly
Student loans are tempting. It’s easy to accept all the financial aid that is offered to you and use it to enroll in the most expensive college or to upgrade your college lifestyle. This is the worst thing you can do. Don’t forget that whatever student loans you take out, you will have to pay it all back with interest after you graduate. All of this adds to the total cost. The more money you borrow now, the more you will have to repay later, increasing the cost of tuition drastically.
When you are looking to lower your tuition costs, you must first explore all of your other cost-reducing strategies first and only take the absolute minimum loan amount that you need. When it comes to paying back the loan, paying it off as quickly as possible will reduce the overall amount you pay back, lowering the total cost of tuition significantly.
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