5 Ways to Make College More Affordable

Make college more affordable with these tips.

By Kathryn Knight Randolph

October 23, 2015

5 Ways to Make College More Affordable

When you open your inbox each day, it’s not unlikely that you would have multiple emails from airlines, clothing providers and electronics suppliers advertising sales, discounts and promotions. Same goes for a trip to the grocery store; weekly discounts are available as well as coupons that can provide further savings. Essentially, we live in a world in which discounts are available for everything we need and want.

So what about college? Are there discounts for higher education?

Well – yes…and no. You’re never going to receive an email in your inbox promoting, “25% Off Tuition at Harvard!” And you can forget a buy one, get one free college education. However, there are ways in which you can make college more affordable.

1. Search for scholarships.

One way to decrease college costs is to apply for (and hopefully win) scholarships. Though this isn’t a guaranteed “discount,” it is a chance for you to lower tuition by hundreds or even thousands. Make applying to scholarships a priority by setting a goal for yourself: apply to one or two scholarships a week in order to increase your chances of winning a scholarship.

2. Fill out the FAFSA.

In addition to making scholarships a priority, put the FAFSA on your annual to-do list as well – even if you’ve never qualified for aid before. Filing the FAFSA enables you to qualify for financial aid of any kind, from work study jobs to unsubsidized Stafford loans, which are available to anyone regardless of their need. Failing to fill out the FAFSA each year rules out your chances for financial aid, which would therefore eliminate your chances of a decrease in the total amount you pay for college.

3. Maximize aid eligibility.

If college is a few years away, there are a variety of ways you can maximize your aid eligibility in order to receive more financial aid. From paying off consumer debt to buying a new car in order to reduce cash on hand, taking these small steps can help you get a lower ticket price on the cost of college.

4. Save, save, save.

Whether you’re leaving for college in ten months or ten years, it’s never too early or late to start saving. A dollar saved is a dollar less you’ll have to borrow for college. And it will lower your cost of attendance at zero cost to you when the time comes to pay your tuition. So open up a 529 savings plan, and save the money from holidays, birthdays and part-time or summer jobs for your college tuition.

5. Strategize how you attend college.

If you really want to save on college costs, be strategic about how you attend college. That means taking college courses or courses that provide college credit in high school. You could also complete your first year or two at a community college and then transfer to a four-year college, which is becoming an increasingly popular and economical choice; so much so that four-year colleges are starting to team up with local community colleges to provide clear-cut paths for transferring.

Ok, so these discounts or promotions in order to make college more affordable aren’t exactly as easy as copying and pasting a promo code in the appropriate box during checkout, but putting in the work and time into each of these could save you thousands of dollars on your college education. And that’s a pretty good deal, right?

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