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Looking to Cut College Costs? Here are 5 ways!

pigeducationmoneyWhether you are a student preparing yourself for college or a parent preparing their child, cost should not be the end-all cause for giving up on higher education altogether. Although the burgeoning costs of college can intimidate families, there are plenty of ways to cut back, save up, earn a little extra, and find additional funding to help cover expenses. In fact, a Sallie Mae survey from 2012 showed that college spending had gone down 5% in the past academic year, confirming that cutting back is possible. An investment in your education (or your child’s) is an investment in your (or their) future so make sure to take advantage of these reliable cost-cutting ways as you map out your financial plan for college.

1. Consider community college. Most students don’t know what they really want to pursue during their first two years. Instead of spending those “undeclared” years in an expensive university, consider taking up minor classes of general education at the local community college. It’s less expensive and will be very helpful for students still deciding on what course to major in. In addition to saving on the cost of pricey university courses, this can also help out with living expenses if the student decides to live with their parents during this period.

2. Apply for scholarships in your hometown. Though there are national scholarships available, applying for local ones may be easier since the pool of applicants is smaller. Consult the high school guidance counselor or check with the local university or college to see if such programs are available. Since the responsibility of finding scholarships falls largely on the family, as opposed to the common misconception of the guidance counselor, parents can help their kids by researching scholarship opportunities.

3. Seek out financial aid. A lot of families immediately assume that they won’t qualify, but you’ll never know if you never try. Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is simple and easy. The student just has to submit the application annually before every school year starts. As a parent, you can help by reminding your student to fill this out each year. Since the FAFSA is linked to a lot of different educational assistance programs, there may be chance that an applicant can qualify for a scholarship or a work-study program.

4. Take advantage of student discounts. A lot of establishments near colleges and universities will offer discounts to students. Identify these places and see if you can get cheaper meals and school supplies. At many schools, these same perks can be enjoyed by alumni, so even after you graduate you can take advantage of these savings. Inquire at your school’s alumni association to see if they offer these rewards.

5. Try to get into a fast track option. There are accelerated programs that allow students to finish the curriculum in three instead of the usual four years. This may mean a more difficult workload, but at least it minimizes the cost of education significantly. If parents know that their child is diligent enough to handle this kind of increased academic responsibility, you should introduce them to this option.

Today’s guest article comes from the Student Financial Literacy team at iGrad.com.

 

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