Tuition increases seem to be as common on campuses across the nation as flip-flops are in the middle of winter on college students. The cost of tuition going up is just something that you can inevitably rely upon. So, as tuition costs are rising what are some things that you can do to help keep yourself immune from those fee increases? I have a couple of ideas to share with you.
- Pay For College Upfront: Some colleges still provide the opportunity for you to pay for all four years up front and allow you to lock-in the rate of tuition being charged to your student for their first year. Obviously you have to have some serious cash stashed away to go this route but it could be an option to avoid the unknown tuition percentage increases for subsequent years.
- Lock In A Semesterly Tuition Rate With Your School: Let’s assume that your college of choice has historically increased tuition by an average of 8% for the past 10 years. Based upon this past performance, you can probably estimate that tuition increases may be similar for the next 4-5 years. Instead of getting hit with that full increase over the course of four years, you offer to pay a premium tuition rate to the school that averages a little higher for the first two years but ends up being lower than the actual cost of tuition the last two years. The magic number for the tuition rate is something you can hash out with the school but chances are they may be willing to work with you if it means your financial happiness and that your student will remain a student at the college for all four years.
- Look for Tuition Guarantees: A handful of schools across the nation provide a tuition freeze for all incoming students. Basically stating that whatever you pay for tuition your first year will be the same amount you are charged during your last year. To date, I have only found thirteen colleges that provide this type of program.
- Pre-Paid College Savings Programs: Years ago this used to be extremely popular and many states were offering programs that allowed you to purchase credits (course credit hours) at the going rate and then guaranteed them to still be worth a credit hour regardless of when you cashed them in (ten years from now or twenty!). Basically, it locked in your tuition rate at the time of purchase/investment and allowed you to be carefree in regard tuition increases. Unfortunately, after all the turbulence in the stock market, many of those programs have either ceased to exist or have restructured to ensure their existence for the long-haul. Independent 529 seems to be one of the few that are still guaranteeing investors the opportunity to lock in today’s tuition rates at over 270 private colleges in the nation.
- Go To Work For A College: If you have a student that is coming up through the ranks of high school and you are not committed to your current career, you can always try to land a job at your local college or university. Typically, most schools provide some sort of tuition remission benefit for their employees that allows their kids to go to school for free (or at least without tuition expense). This approach not only helps you avoid tuition increases but it also helps you to eliminate the cost altogether.
Regardless of your financial resources, I hope that one of these five options can be applicable to your situation and help to keep your exposure to tuition increases at a minimum as your student makes their way off to college.