With colleges, one of the surest ways to lower the price is to…yes, you guessed it … pick a cheaper school! The truth is to get the best education, you don't need to attend the most expensive school. In fact, the priciest school may not be the best fit for you. Think about buying a car. What's the real difference between a Mercedes and a Honda? Mostly it's the image that each car conveys. Putting aside the bragging rights, wouldn't both serve you well? With either, you'd get from point A to point B (which is the primary function of a car), and with one, you'd have a whole lot of cash left over.
In addition to choosing colleges that cost less, you can also cut costs with strategies like getting credit hours by taking exams or graduating a semester early. You could even choose to attend a tuition-free college. (They do exist!) In this guide we look at ways that you can shrink your total college bill without compromising the quality of your education.
As you already know, tuition prices vary a great deal. Yet, most colleges offer similar courses and credits that are transferable from one school to another. With careful planning, you can start at a less expensive school such as a community college, and after two years, transfer to a more expensive college while still graduating on time.
A lot of students overlook their local community colleges. Yet, it's a great way to complete two years of your education for less than half the price of a four-year college. Most four-year colleges also offer automatic admission or scholarships to community college students who transfer into their schools. The reality is that when it comes time to get a job, potential employers are only interested in where you graduated from, not the path you took to get there.
You may not realize it, but your state college or university is already a bargain. Compare tuition at your state college to a private college and you'll see just how much cheaper it is. Nationally, a public university costs an average of $18,000 less than a private university. Why are state schools cheaper? It's not because they aren't as good as private colleges. The tuition is less at state schools because your state tax dollars are used to subsidize the price of in-state tuition. Simply choosing to attend your state university is like getting an automatic discount.
In the past you could sometimes just spend a year in a state, claim residency and then pay in-state tuition. However, most states are cracking down on students who claim to be residents but are only there to get discounted educations. So check with the state in which you will be going to school to review their residency requirements. Nevertheless, even though it takes longer and you may have to jump through a few more hoops, it's definitely worth exploring the idea of getting residency. Once you are able to claim residency you'll see a dramatic decrease in your tuition.
Gen and Kelly Tanabe
Founders of SuperCollege and authors of 13 books on college planning.
By: Gen & Kelly Tanabe
Need money for college? Stressed over how to pay the next tuition bill? Searching for a way to get a degree without going broke? Whether you need a full-tuition scholarship or a little extra cash to make ends meet, 1001 Ways to Pay for College provides students and parents with the answers.
By: Gen & Kelly Tanabe
The goal of The Ultimate Scholarship Book is simple: To help you find free money. Inside you'll find the most up-to-date and comprehensive listing of more than 1.5 million awards. An easy-to-use index makes finding the right scholarships ridiculously quick. And it wouldn't be the Ultimate book without a section of little known insider tips and strategies that show you how to actually win the scholarships you find!