College costs just keep escalating and gasoline appears to have a better chance of moderating than college tuition. With college costs expected to consistently rise ahead of the inflation rate, it’s becoming more and more difficult to comprehend that 18+ years of saving will not be sufficient to cover the costs of college. What’s a parent to do? More importantly, what’s an 18 year old student to do?
Options to reduce your college costs.
1. Think about what you really want to do with your life, but keep in mind that you may change that several times before you reach 25! Start investigating the college you are most interested in while carefully weighing your academic and career goals. Making the wrong choice at this stage in your life can be expensive if you transfer schools or drop out entirely. Remember that NOT going to college is an option if you have a real opportunity to pursue something you’re passionate about. Not going will significantly reduce your college costs!
2. Investigate going to a local community or junior college for your first year or two while you sort out what it is you realy want to do. Make sure the college’s courses are accepted at other four year schools FIRST. The costs of attending a community or junior college are considerably less than traditional schools
3. Go to a public college instead of a private one. If you’ve worked any at all, in theory, you’ve already paid toward your public college education through taxes. An in-state public university offers a great education at subsidized tuition prices. Might as well take advantage of it. Bear in mind, however, many private colleges will bring down their costs for the right applicants.
4. Enroll in advanced placement (AP) courses while you’re able. Many colleges accept AP for full college credit, which can reduce the time you spend in college. Since many colleges charge you by the hour, your costs for college could be reduced by those hours. In some cases, you can substitute a year at a local community college for your senior year in high school.
5. Research available scholarships. Visit your high school counseling office or your public library. Or, search free scholarship sites on the Internet. When the time comes to apply, you should have already developed a sound strategy for seeking out scholarship money. Reducing college costs through scholarships can be very competitive, so start your scholarship search early.
6. Get someone else to pay for it. Seriously. The Federal Government has many programs to help you pay your way through college if you’re willing to invest some time in the military.
7. Consider the online option. I finished my Bachelor’s degree and my Master’s degree in an online format. Many, many courses offered at traditional colleges offer the exact same courses online anyway. The cost of my online Bachelor’s was about $15,000 for the tuition, and the cost of my MBA was about $11,000. The cost of a traditional four year degree in a public university can run $50,000 or more while Master’s degrees can easily cost that much or more.
If you’re seriously interested in attending college for the purpose of getting a degree, the costs can be greatly reduced by being flexible, asking lots of questions (and follow up questions), performing research well in advance of needing the assistance, and knowing what you want to do with your life.
As always, though, don’t think that ANYTHING can prevent you from getting your degree if you’re determined enough to do it. Listen to your heart and make your own decisions.