Making Sense of Cents and College Ave Student Loans have partnered on a series of blog posts on what to expect when it comes to planning for college…especially when it comes to time to pay. Through the series, we hope families gain a little more insight on how to tackle the next four or more years ahead with a stronger financial footing. All opinions are 100% my own. To learn more, please visit: https://www.collegeavestudentloans.com.
College costs are one of the largest “purchases” a person will ever make. The other big purchase would most likely be a house that a person buys. However, sometimes a house may cost LESS than a college degree!
The cost of college can vary significantly, as you can see. Tuition for an in-state public college averages around $28,000 and a more expensive private college tuition is double that amount at an average of $59,000. For a four year elite university, the cost jumps to $68,000. Lastly, if your child (or you) is enrolled in higher education for something like medicine or law, college costs may reach hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years.
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- How Blogging Paid Off My Student Loans
- How To Pay Off Student Loans
Even though these numbers are high, there are ways to decrease the amount you spend on college so that you aren't drowning in student loan debt or regretting the amount of money you spent on college. Or, you may even be able to attend college without accruing any student loan debt whatsoever. Remember, that is possible as well!
Here are several ways to lower your college costs:
How much are your college textbooks?
According to a College Ave Student Loans and GET Creative, a part of USA TODAY Network, Twitter Poll with 17,532 votes, 46% of respondents said textbooks and supplies were the most surprising costs of college.
When I was in college, many of my classes required more than one book and each book was usually around $200 brand new. This meant if I were to buy all of my college textbooks brand new, I probably would have had to spend over $1,000 each semester. For some college majors, you may even find yourself spending even more money on each textbook.
To save money on college textbooks, I would often try renting them or try to purchase used textbooks. Renting was easy for me as a college student because I only paid one fee and never had to worry about what to do with the textbook after the class was done, as I only had to return them. There was no worrying about the book being worthless if a new edition came out, which was nice! Buying used textbooks was also nice because sometimes I could make my money back.
Do you qualify for any financial aid?
Yes, you may qualify for some financial aid. I definitely recommend looking into this even if you think it may not apply to your situation.
FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is a form that is filled out by college students or those who are about to enter college to see if they qualify for any financial aid.
After you fill out a FAFSA form and if you qualify for student financial aid, you may be rewarded with a Pell Grant, a Stafford Loan, a Federal Perkins Loan, or a work-study program.
These different “awards” can allow a college student to go to college more affordably, by being given a grant or a low-interest student loan.
Can you earn any college credits while in high school?
When I was in my senior year of high school, nearly all of my classes were college courses taken at my high school where I was earning college and high school credit at the same time. I took AP classes and classes that earned me direct college credit from nearby private universities and it was a great decision on my part, even if I didn't realize how crazy important it was at the time.
Due to this, I graduated from my high school with around 14-18 credit hours (I cannot remember the exact amount as it was several years ago). By doing this, I had knocked out a whole semester of college before even starting. I regret not taking MORE college classes when I was in high school. If only I realized how much money I was saving back then.
Many high schools will allow you to take college classes to earn both college and high school credits at the same time. Most of the time, these are done right at your high school, so you don't have to go out of your way to take them or drive to a college in order to do so.
If you are still in high school, this is something I highly recommend you look into, because it not only saves time, it is one of the best ways to save on college costs.
Can you go to community college first?
I only took community college classes during one summer semester where I earned 12 credits, and I still regret not taking more. I probably could have saved around $20,000 by taking more classes at my local community college.
Yes, that much money could have been saved!
Whether you are in college already or if you haven’t started yet, taking classes at a community college can be a great way to save money.
You may only spend $4,000 a year at a community college (or even less in some areas!), which is a huge difference from the costs that were mentioned at the beginning of this article.
One quick note about this way to save money on college costs: If you decide to go to a community college first, always make sure that the 4-year college you plan on attending afterwards will transfer all of your credits. It’s an easy step to take, so do not forget! You should take this step before you sign up and pay for any classes at the community college so that you are not wasting your time. My college made it easy and had a printed list of what transferred from a local community college near the university – it's seriously that easy!
For other tips on saving money for college, I recommend reading the articles below from College Ave Student Loans:
How did you save money on college costs? What other tips do you have for college students and/or their parents?
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