How to pay less for college


There are a number of ways to pay less for a college education which makes college more affordable despite the high cost. These 18 tips will help you cut college costs.

[See also How to Cut College Costs for additional tips.]

Advice on financial aid for college

Focus on free money first, such as grants, scholarships and tuition waivers. Use a free scholarship matching website, like or the College Board’s Big Future, to find scholarships that match your profile. Also use Google to search for scholarships by adding the word ‘scholarships’ to your search query, but beware of scholarship scams. If you have to pay money to get money, it is probably a scam. Scholarship books can also be useful, but check the copyright date to make sure the book is not too old to be useful. Keep looking for scholarships even after you have already enrolled in college.

Apply for financial assistance even if you think you don’t qualify. File the Free Federal Student Aid Application (FAFSA) each year to be eligible for federal and state grants. Some colleges will need an additional form, such as the CSS Profile, to apply for their own financial aid funds, but must still use the FAFSA for federal and state aid. Students are more likely to qualify for financial aid at a higher-cost college, even if they are not low-income students. You cannot get financial aid if you don’t apply.

Military aid to students can make college more affordable. You can earn an ROTC scholarship for one year before you need to commit to serving in the United States Armed Forces after graduation.

You can get a work alternately Where part-time work on or near campus to earn extra money to pay for education. Income from student employment of up to approximately $ 7,000 per year will not affect eligibility for need-based financial assistance. However, do not work more than 12 hours per week. Students who work full time are half as likely to get a bachelor’s degree in six years than students who work 12 hours or less per week.

Call for more financial aid. Financial assistance forms do not take into account special circumstances, such as changes in family income and employment, or unusual circumstances that differentiate family finances from those of the typical family. Financial assistance appeals are sometimes referred to as negotiation, professional judgment review, or special circumstance review. Download a free tip sheet on how to apply for additional financial assistance.

Take advantage of college tax breaks

Save money in one 529 plan, which is a kind of education savings plan that offers tax benefits and financial aid. Two-thirds of states offer an income tax deduction or contribution tax credit to the state 529 plan, which is like getting a small rebate on tuition fees. Every dollar saved equals one less dollar you will need to borrow.

Parents must claim the U.S. Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) on their federal income tax return. The AOTC offers a partially refundable tax credit of up to $ 2,500 based on a maximum of $ 4,000 in tuition and textbooks each year for a maximum period of four years. The AOTC is an above-the-line income exclusion meaning you can claim it even if you don’t itemize. There is also the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit (LLTC), which is a less generous tax credit for those ineligible for the AOTC.

Claim the Deduction of interest on student loans on your federal income tax return. The student loan interest deduction is an income exclusion above the line up to $ 2,500 in interest paid on federal and private student loans.

Reduce attendance costs

Living off campus in an apartment or with your parents to reduce housing costs. Find a roommate to share the rent. However, students who live on campus are more likely to graduate and graduate on time than students who live off campus or with their parents. If you have to drive to campus, the cost of a car can add to your costs. It can be difficult to find a parking space on campus.

Buy used textbooks. Buying used textbooks and reselling your textbooks at the campus bookstore at the end of the term can save you up to half the cost of new textbooks. College course curricula should include the ISBN for each required textbook, which should help you purchase a cheaper version of the correct edition of the textbook online. Textbooks may also be on reserve in the college library, but these books tend to disappear at the start of the term.

Adopt an austere lifestyle. Spend money only on necessities, not on luxuries. Your goal is to graduate from college, not to party or specialize in pre-marriage. Avoid eating out or having fun unless someone else is paying. Choose a cheaper meal plan to save on room and board and to avoid the first 15. Live like a student while you’re in school, so you don’t have to live like a student after school. ‘graduation. Every dollar you spend will cost you around two dollars by the time you pay off the debt, so ask yourself if you would still spend that money if it cost twice as much.

Ask for discounts. If you have a regular bill, ask for a discount. Sometimes you have to threaten to cancel your service. When shopping, ask them if they have a student discount or other discounts. It doesn’t hurt to ask, and the worst they can say is “no”. (This trick works even when you’re an adult. Most department stores offer 10% off and free delivery on devices just for asking.)

Track your spending. Awareness of the expense is the first step in exercising withholding. Track your spending using a spreadsheet,, or Quicken. Label each expense in a broad category, such as food, clothing, accommodation, transportation, medical care, and taxes. Or, label each expense as mandatory (need) or discretionary (want). Generate a total for each tag or category at the end of the month to see where your money is going.

Advice on financing education

Ask the college bursar tuition installment plans. A tuition installment plan divides college bills into equal monthly installments during the academic term. They are useful if you can pay the college bills, but not in one big lump sum. Tuition installment plans do not charge interest, but do charge an upfront fee. They are a cheaper alternative to long-term student debt.

Budget before borrowing. Try to have total student loan debt upon graduation that is less than your starting annual salary, and ideally much less. If the total student loan debt is less than the annual income, you should be able to pay off your student loans in ten years or less. If the total student loan debt exceeds the annual income, you will have a hard time paying off your student loans in ten years and will need another repayment plan, such as an extended repayment or an income-based repayment, to pay the monthly loan payments. These repayment plans reduce the monthly payment by increasing the repayment term to 20, 25 or even 30 years.

Borrow federal first. Federal student loans are cheaper and offer better repayment options than private student loans. They are also easier to obtain.

Reduce time to obtain a university degree

Crystallize an academic major choice early. Students who change major or transfer to another college are less likely to graduate on time because some of their college credits may not count towards the new major or college and colleges offer less help financial support to transferred students. Take an interest or skills inventory test to help you identify the correct academic major earlier.

Plan a route from enrollment to completion. Students who plan which courses they will take when are more likely to graduate on time. Graduating in three years instead of four, or, more realistically, four years instead of five, will save you a year or two in college fees. Take into account the frequency with which the courses are offered and the prerequisites.


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