How to Pay for College

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  • 2/16/12
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  • How to Pay for College
    The financial rewards of a college degree are clear. College graduates find employment more easily and earn more than their counterparts who lack degrees. As college tuition costs continue to rise, however, more parents worry about the difficulty of funding their child's education. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the cost of that four-year degree.

    Read on to learn several strategies for reducing tuition costs.

    1. Compare financial aid packages. High school seniors should apply to several colleges and compare financial aid offers. All colleges and universities that receive Title IV funds are required to offer net price calculators on their websites. Entering personal and financial data will produce an estimate of the out-of-pocket expense of attending a particular institution. Contact the financial aid office of the institution to confirm the estimate.

    2. Communicate with the colleges. Many will offer more aid to the most qualified applicants, matching offers from other institutions. Your child should apply to a college where his or her grades and SAT scores place in the top quarter of applicant scores. Ask what the institution can provide for financial aid. If you have a better offer from another college, mention it and see if your first-choice institution will match it.

    3. Encourage your child to look for a college close to home or extended family. Students who stay at home and commute to college will save money on room and board.

    4. Think about in-state colleges. Public colleges offer lower tuition rates to in-state students.

    5. Consider a community college. Attending a community college with a good transfer program will save a considerable amount of money. Your child can attend the community college for two years and then transfer to a four-year college or university. Community colleges offer several benefits, including smaller classes and more instructor attention. Students unsure of their ultimate course of study can explore their options less expensively than they could at a four-year college.

    6. Investigate cooperative education programs that require students to alternately study full time and work full time. Students don't need to demonstrate financial need to participate in these programs, which can pay several thousand dollars per year.

    7. Check out the student placement office. Most institutions have offices that help students find work. They also have personnel offices that offer employment to students who wish to work on campus. Financial need is not a consideration for this type of employment, which can be a great way to pay for college costs.

    8. Look for a school that offers a three-year program, allowing students to complete all courses needed for their degree in three years instead of four. These programs allow you to save a full year of educational expenses.

    Image Credit: 401K
    Written By: Shannon R

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