Tips to Make College More Affordable

If you’re a college student or parent, review these simple tips for ideas and ways to save during the college years.

Stacks of coins increasing to payoff debt.

There’s no secret formula for making college cheaper, but there are a few simple factors that can help.

  • Ask for help– Fill out the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which provides access to grants, scholarships, work-study jobs, and loans.
  • Look in state– In-state schools are significantly cheaper than private and out-of-state options, and many of them are top ranked for quality education.
  • Live at home– If you choose a school nearby, you’ll save a bundle if you can live at home and commute to your classes.
  • Take more classes– Depending on your comfort level, enroll in the maximum number of credits to get through school quicker. You pay the same tuition whether you have 12 or 18 credits.
  • Ditch the car– College costs usually include a free bus pass. And, if you’ll be living on campus, you can walk to class.
  • Buy used books– Textbooks are notoriously expensive, so go used and remember to resell them at the end of the semester.
  • Work part time– If you’re able, consider finding a flexible, part-time job to help cover your day-to-day expenses.
  • Consider alternatives– Technical colleges, apprenticeship programs, associate degrees and online courses are all affordable alternatives to a traditional 4-year college.

College costs vary by state and institution, and you’ll want enough to confidently send yourself, your child or your grandchild off to college. Common expenses include:

  • Tuition
  • Housing
  • Meals
  • Transportation
  • Textbooks
  • Laptop
  • Miscellaneous supplies (toiletries, bedding, etc.)

Keep in mind, too, that college costs are spread out over semesters and years. While it’s a burden for any budget, remember that those big tuition numbers will be broken down into staggered payments.

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