Let’s face it; education is expensive!
No matter how much of a great saver you are or how thoroughly you have researched financial aid options, college costs can still be high. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can strategically plan to lower college costs.
Here are some creative ways to lower college costs:
1) Research Aid Options Early On
With high competition nowadays, particularly with uncertain economic conditions, it is wiser to start planning the financial aid process as soon as possible. Leaving it for the last minute would result in missing deadlines and increasing the chances of mistakes.
2) Manage Student Loans Responsibly
Understanding that student loans come with high interest will ensure you responsibly manage them. The less loan you take, the easier it will be for you to repay. Ask the school to return any leftover funds after the school expenses are paid. Be sure to make the payment for the interest now instead of deferring it, as it will burden you more later.
3) Get College Credits in School
Make the most of the opportunity to earn college credits in high school. This reduces the number of college credits you need to finish the degree, reducing your overall cost.
4) Begin in Community College and Transfer
Another creative way of lowering your college cost is by starting at a community college and then transferring to your preferred college. This will allow you to complete all the general courses every school requires at an affordable cost and move on to specific courses at a four-year school. Check if your preferred college will accept credits from the community college.
5) Do Part-Time Jobs
A part-time job is a great way to manage college costs without getting overwhelmed. However, managing work while studying might not be for everyone. You can also focus on classes in your first year to adjust to the load and get a part-time job for the remaining years.
6) Avoid Purchasing New Textbooks
New textbooks can take up a big chunk of the funds. It is best to buy used books and sell them later or find out if your school allows you to rent the textbooks. Be sure to check online to see if any textbook is available from an online retailer which would be less expensive than a physical copy.
7) Consider Deferring a Year
You might be excited to start college, but taking a gap year before starting your classes could save you money. Apply to colleges normally and once you get accepted, request the school to defer you to the following year.
8) Find More Cost-Cutting Ways
There are numerous other ways to lower your costs for college, including:
- Having home-cooked meals
- Living at home to avoid accommodation costs
- Avoiding paying with credit cards
- Using public transportation instead of your car to save on maintenance, parking, gas, and insurance
Financial aid, borrowing money, and saving money are usual ways to pay for college but don’t really lower the overall college expenses. These eight tips will allow you to lower college costs and ensure a good college experience.
It is also wiser to consult an experienced financial advisor to create an effective budget and saving plan for college that will help you keep the costs lower and have a strategy to pay back any loans you take.