Five Ways To Save On College Costs
These five easy tips can save you big bucks.
According to the CollegeBoard, on average, students are paying 7.9 percent more in college tuition and fees this year than they did in 2009. As the costs of getting a college education continue to rise from year to year, students and parents are always looking for ways to cut costs and save on college tuition and fees. Here are a few suggestions on how to save money on college costs.
Are you really good at math, science or any other subject? If so, many colleges will offer you college credits if you take and score high enough on some tests.
The College Level Examination Program (CLEP), offers 33 tests in a variety of subjects ranging from math, to science to foreign languages. Students who achieve a qualifying score on each of these exams can be awarded anywhere from 3 to 12 college credit hours. Each exam currently costs $77, about the cost of one credit hour at most community colleges in Illinois. Therefore, a student will save about two thirds of tuition costs for each CLEP exam they pass.
I took five CLEP exams with each one lasting approximately two hours. I passed each one and even scored a perfect score on the Spanish Language (Levels 1 and 2) exam. As a result, I was awarded 12 semester credits for that exam and three credits apiece for each of the other tests I took. Therefore, for ten hours of work, I gained 24 college semester credit hours; the equivalent of two full time semesters. Besides saving money, I saved myself 32 weeks of class work. Had I been required to live in school housing, I'd have saved two semesters worth of rent as well.
NOTE: Aside from the exam costs, some colleges also charge a sitting fee. Call several of the colleges in your area to determine which one offers the lowest fees.
While in high school, select students can take Advanced Placement (AP) classes. At the end of the class terms, students are able to sit for the AP exams. As with CLEP, students can receive college credit if they achieve qualifying scores.
At some colleges, students are often times placed in specific courses based on their ACT/SAT scores, grade level or, other factors. However, some colleges allow students to test out of certain classes. While students might not obtain college credit when testing out of specific classes, they may be able to save money by not having to take perquisite classes.
Whether you attend an Ivy League school or a community college, math will always be the same (i.e. 2+2 will always equal four) and the colors on a color wheel will be the same. So what's the difference between education at both types of colleges? Often times it's simply the tuition bill. In fact, in many cases, professors at a community college will also moonlight as adjunct professors at four year colleges as well.
Tuition at community colleges often average 75 to 80 percent less than at four year institutions. Some community colleges allow students to enroll in classes as early as their junior year in high school. By the time students graduate high school, they may have the equivalent of one or two semester's worth of college credit. Since tuition increases on a yearly basis, completing classes earlier will save you the equivalent of whatever the tuition increase for a specific year would be. If you must attend a regular four year college or university, consider taking some classes at a community college during summer months.
As many adults begin or return to college years after graduating from high school, they bring with them a certain set of skills and experiences. Many colleges with high levels of older students offer programs where students are awarded college credit for their previous life experience.
Military students often times can receive college credit for training they received while in the military as well.
I served in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army. Based on some of the training I obtained, I was able to obtain 23 college credit hours. As a result, on my first day in college, I already had 47 semester hours (one semester hour shy of four, full time college semesters) from my military training and CLEP exams combined and I hadn't paid a dime for any of it.
At one college I worked at, students were housed in some luxurious condominiums in downtown Chicago. Students from out of town paid an average of $12,000 annually on housing costs alone. By attending a college close to home a student will save the costs of rent as well as other costs associated with moving such as buying new furniture, groceries, etc. If you must move to another town for college, living with room mates on campus will generally be the cheaper option.
Don't buy books
Textbook prices are usually pretty high, especially when a student buys the book directly from the school bookstore. To save money, buy used books whenever possible. Also, look online for the teacher's edition. Teachers often get them for free from the publisher or distributor and sell them at a fraction of its original price online. A foreign edition of your text may also be available for less than the U.S. version of the same book. You may also want to buy the immediate previous edition of your book as chances are the vast majority of the information is still the same as in the new edition.
If you want to save even more money yet, the electronic file editions of a book usually costs up to 50 percent less than the hard copy. Finally, for the ultimate bargain hunters, try to rent the books online or trade books with other students.