A lot of people start thinking about their children’s education from the time of conception. While they know seeing their sons or daughters off to college is many years down the road, they want to do everything they can to ensure they go to a top-notch institution.
In rare cases, parents have the financial means to pay for their children’s education. Sometimes, young adults go to college thanks to full-ride scholarships. However, the reality for most parents, as well as students, is that earning a degree costs an exorbitant amount of money. The worst-case scenario involves securing a student loan, which takes years to pay off.
If you’re a young adult who wants to earn a degree, there’s good news. Simply by knowing how, you can reduce the cost of higher education. Although these won’t pay the full amount of what it costs to attend college, they’ll certainly eliminate a portion of the financial burden.
1. Don’t Automatically Dismiss Financial Aid
An excellent way to reduce the expense of attending a college or university is to take advantage of financial aid. Unfortunately, many people don’t even consider this option because they don’t think they’ll qualify. While there are caps as to how much income an individual can make, the rules are somewhat flexible.
As an example, colleges and universities have the freedom to establish eligibility requirements for all types of financial aid programs, including grants and scholarships. So, while you might not qualify for assistance at one educational institution, you could at another. It never hurts to talk to a representative who works in the financial aid department.
2. Start at a Community College
This will go a long way to reduce the cost of getting a college education. Rather than enroll in a four-year university from the start, attend a local college to complete an Associate’s degree program. The key is to make sure you attend an accredited educational institution. That way, you can then transfer to any four-year university to get your Bachelor’s and possibly Master’s degree.
3. Stay in State
There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big, heading to another state to attend a prestigious university while living independently. However, that comes at a price. When comparing what it costs to attend a college or university as an in-state student rather than a student from out of state, the difference is substantial.
As a perfect example, look at Arizona State University. Arizonians can attend this school for about $19,000 a year. In comparison, students coming from other states would have to pay around $33,000. Remember, that’s just the cost of tuition, not books, labs, room and board, and so on.
4. Live at Home
For most students, part of the college experience is to move out of their parent’s house. However, that tacks on yet another huge expense. Instead of paying for a dorm on campus or living in an apartment off-campus, it’s more cost-effective to just stay at home. Perhaps you and your parents can work out a deal that gives you a little more freedom.
For this, try to focus on the positive. You’ll be in a familiar environment, probably have meals cooked for you, have access to laundry facilities whenever you need them, and if your parents don’t mind loosening up on some of the rules, you can have friends and partners visit. Even if you remain at home for the first two years of college, you’ll save a tremendous amount of money.
5. Shorten the Education Period
Traditionally, it takes two years to earn an Associate’s degree, another two years to get a Bachelor’s degree, and then an additional two years to complete a Master’s program. That means attending college for a minimum of six years. To reduce the cost of higher education, consider shortening how long you go to school.
One option is to take accelerated classes. Most educational institutions offer these, which dramatically reduces the time it takes to earn a degree. Another option is to carry a heavier credit load. Now, if you plan to work, even part-time, that would be difficult. If not, then you could add one or two classes each semester. Ultimately, you’ll finish college earlier, which equates to paying less.
There’s yet another possibility that a lot of young adults know nothing about. You can take advance placement courses, pass a CLEP test, or enroll in dual credit courses. For these, you have the opportunity to earn college credits but without even attending class. One additional option is to continuously attend college as opposed to just the scheduled school year. Since most community colleges and four-year universities offer online courses, you can keep taking classes throughout the summer months.
On a side note, look into the online classes that the college or university of your choice offers. The reason is that you could complete some of your studies via online classes and then attend on-campus classes for the rest. The cost difference of online versus on-campus education is usually significant.
6. Benefits From Discounts
Of all the ways to reduce the cost of a college education mentioned, this has the least impact. Even so, it’s another way to spend less while getting a higher education. Along with on-campus venues and local merchants in the city where you plan to attend school, a broad range of businesses all over the country offer discounts to students.
For instance, if you want to purchase a car, most dealerships have student discounts. You can get a discount by shopping on Amazon while going to various sporting events, buying groceries, and more. All you need to do is show your student ID. Since it’s expensive to get a college degree, every bit of savings counts.
Get the Education You Want for Less
These are just six examples of ways to reduce the cost of getting a college education. Many more exist. One of the best resources is the financial aid department at the college or university of choice. You can also do online research and even talk to a financial advisor. Not only can you do things to make your education more affordable, but your parents can help as well.