You can’t go anywhere these days without hearing about the skyrocketing costs of college and how debt is burdening students for decades. Read on for a few approaches to getting a college education without breaking the bank.
1. Go With Cost-Effective Online Schools
An affordable online education is one of the best ways to get ahead. Schools such as Great Basin College, BYU-Idaho, and Western Governors University offer tuition that is a fraction of the cost of bigger-name colleges. For instance, Great Basin College, accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, costs $3,248 in tuition per semester. About 4,000 students study a wide variety of programs such as business, nursing, and early childhood education.
Do look for online school red flags such as upfront payment required, no physical address, a name too similar to a high-tier college such as Yale, and a lack of services such as technical support and counseling.
2. Go to Community College
Community colleges get a bad rap for being “lesser than.” Nonsense. You can get an excellent education through them, and then if you want, transfer to a four-year school for more prestige. The first two years of lower costs make a tremendous difference.
3. Live at Home or With Roommates
Room and board expenses often carry a hefty price tag. One way to save is to live with a bunch of roommates or stay at home with your family. If you attend school in an area of the country with a low cost of living, the savings you realize by getting roommates can be incredible.
4. Graduate on Time
One or two extra years of college can mean tens of thousands of dollars in additional expenses, especially if student loan interest racks up over time. Graduating on time or even early is a great way to save a load of money. Here are some suggestions for accomplishing this.
- Undergo career testing so you can plan your degree and maximize your college time.
- Ensure the degree, whether bachelor’s, master’s, or something else, is what you want and not something you’re doing because you feel you need to.
- Earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree at the same time. These programs can net you a master’s degree in just five years instead of six.
- Take college or advanced placement courses in high school.
- Plan out your tentative class schedule to ensure course availability. Sometimes, graduations get postponed because colleges did not offer the necessary classes at the right times.
5. File Your FAFSA Early
There are three FAFSA deadlines: college, state, and federal. Whatever the case with your various deadlines, submit your FAFSA early since money reserves are the highest. It’s possible to miss out on critical financial aid if you file later when the money is dwindling or even gone.
A college education is expensive for many people these days, but there are approaches to lower the price tag. For instance, you can go online only or attend community college for two years before transferring.