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May 24, 2010
Cut College Costs
Paying for college can seem like a daunting and expensive task. However, you can find ways to cut college costs by doing your homework.
Attend Community College First
If the cost of college seems overwhelming, consider attending a community college and then transferring to a 4-year college. You’ll save money and still get the same diploma as students who didn’t transfer. Some great benefits to choosing a community college are:
- You might be able to start taking classes while still in high school.
- You can save money by living at home while you attend college.
- Class sizes are small.
- Generally, community colleges provide more practical, hands-on experience than traditional 4-year colleges.
Remember to keep the 4-year college you want to attend in mind. Find out which and how many community college course credits they will accept, so that you graduate on budget and on time. Make sure you also understand GPA or other requirements the school might have.
Lock in Your Tuition Rate
Certain colleges offer locked-in tuition programs. That means the tuition rate you pay as a freshman is guaranteed until you graduate. Rates only increase for each successive incoming class.
Usually a tuition freeze requires continuous full-time enrollment. If you take a leave of absence or drop below full time, your tuition will relock at the rate then in effect.
Tuition freezes are more common among community colleges and public colleges than among private 4-year colleges. Some schools offer guaranteed-tuition programs for free. Others charge fees. Be sure to check.
There are other college cost cutting suggestions to keep in mind. Consider the following:
- Pay for college as you go. You can work full time in the summers and part time during the school year.
- Take on a heavier class load. Check with your advisor about taking an extra class or 2. While doing so may raise the cost of that semester's tuition, chances are it will be cheaper than attending school for additional semesters. By taking extra classes, you might be able to graduate a semester earlier.
- Attend summer school. Summer tuition is generally less expensive than tuition during the rest of the year.
Consider What You'll Have to Repay
Student loans are an investment—and it’s important to be a wise borrower. If you are considering student loans, keep your earning potential for your chosen degree in mind. Limit yourself to an amount of loans that you would easily be able to pay on your future income.
In other words, if your chosen career has an earning potential of $40,000, don’t take out $100,000 worth of loans. If you’re wondering what those numbers could look like, use our salary/debt wizard calculator.