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How to reduce the cost of college

U.S. Department of Education

There are many ways to control and reduce the cost of college.

Here are some suggestions on how you might be able to lower the cost of college. For many of these suggestions, you’ll want to follow up with the colleges or career schools you are interested in to get additional details.

• Set a budget and stick to it. Having a budget will help you compare anticipated college or career school expenses against your potential available income and financial aid. You also can use a budget to compare costs between different schools. Learn about budgeting.

• College or career school costs can vary significantly and there are many schools with affordable tuition and generous financial assistance. Make sure to research all schools that may meet your academic and financial needs.

• You may be able to get school credit based on your knowledge or life experiences, and you can manage your course work to reduce costs.

• Ask your school whether it’s possible to “test out of” any classes. If you don’t take a class, you may not have to pay for the credits.

• Some colleges give credit for life experiences, thereby reducing the number of credits needed for graduation.

• Most schools charge a set price for a specific number of credits taken in a semester. If academically possible, take the maximum number of credits allowed. This strategy reduces the amount of time needed to graduate.

• Some schools offer combined degree programs or three-year programs that allow you to take all of the courses needed for graduation in three years, instead of four, thereby eliminating one year’s educational expenses.

• Colleges and career schools may offer discounts on tuition if you are a child of an alumnus, more than one family member is enrolled at the school, you are a student government leader or the editor of the college newspaper or yearbook, you are an older student, your family’s main wage earner is unemployed or you or a member of your family works at the school.

Here are some tips for reducing your housing costs:

• If you go to a college or career school near home, consider living with your parents or other family.

• If you live off-campus, consider sharing a house or apartment with multiple housemates to cut down the cost of rent, and carpool to save on gas and parking.

• Most colleges and universities sponsor resident advisor programs that offer reduced tuition or reduced room and board costs if you work in a residence hall.

You can also work part-time to pay part of your costs. Be sure your work and school schedules don’t conflict and that you have enough time for studying. Here are a couple of options:

• The Federal Work-Study Program provides an opportunity to earn money while going to school. Ask schools if they participate in the program.

• Cooperative education programs allow students to alternate between working full-time and studying full-time.

• Most schools have placement offices that help students find employment and personnel offices that hire students to work on campus.

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