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Ouch How Can I Afford That

Shocked by the “sticker price” for college? Most students are.

With the cost of college projected to increase each year by 6.5% (public) or 4.5% (private), more and more students are looking are looking for ways to reduce costs when planning for college.

Good news: the sticker price is not your out-of-pocket price (the amount you’ll actually pay). Check out the “net price calculator” on each college’s website to get a more accurate picture of costs.

If you don’t have savings to close the gap between financial aid and college expenses (and most of us don’t), federal and private loans can help. 

More good news: There are many other ways you can help cut college costs including financial aid, free college credits, and work study.

Financial Aid.

You may qualify for financial aid, scholarships or grants that can reduce the actual amount you’ll pay out of pocket. Grants can be given out by the federal government, states, or colleges and don’t need to be paid back.  They are usually awarded based on financial need.  Scholarships, on the other hand, can be awarded based on a variety of different criteria including grades, athletic ability, or involvement in a certain activity.  Similar to grants, scholarships don’t need to be paid back.  Applying for private scholarships is a great way for students to earn free money for school. 

Choose the Right School. 

Prices for schools can vary drastically and the school you choose can make a huge difference in how much you’ll end up paying. 

Public vs Private. The average cost of attendance differs greatly between private and public schools.  Typically, private schools have a higher “sticker price” than public schools, but some private schools will choose to offer more financial aid to students. 

You can save thousands of dollars each year by attending a public school in your home state or a school that offers reciprocity.  Plus, by living at home during college you can save on room and board costs – ultimately saving you tons of money. 

Plan and Prepare. 

Taking the time to prepare for your future during high school can pay off big time down the road.  Options such as AP or IB classes allow high school students to earn college credits at little to no cost.  Many schools also offer a Post-Secondary Enrollment Option (PSEO) where students take courses at the college level.  By earning college credits in high school, students are able to save on tuition costs in the future.

Save While In School. 

There are many options for students to work and earn money during college as well.  Most colleges offer federal work study programs that provide part-time jobs for students.  This is a great opportunity for students to earn money and save to pay off some expenses. 

Strategically planning out how many classes you’ll take and when you’ll take them can save you money when paying for college. 

Schools often offer discounts on winter or summer classes.  Taking advantage of these class offerings can help students cut back on tuition costs.  These classes can also help students to finish their degree sooner and possibly graduate early. 

There are hundreds of other ways to cut back on expenses during your college years.  Take the time to learn more about how you could save on college costs.  You’ll thank yourself later. 


Created and Compiled by Rachel Rue, cuLearn, and a talented writer/editor


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