10 Great Ways to Cut College Costs

How do you cut the cost of college?

Recently I shared 10 tips on the first session of #CollegeChat, which is a live monthly conversation for teens, college students and parents on Twitter. I pulled all the tips from my new eBook, Shrinking the Cost of College: 152 Ways to Cut the Price of a Bachelor’s Degree.

Here are the cost-saving highlights that that I cover that can shave thousands of dollars a year off the college tab:

1. Cast a wide net. Thirty-five percent of students attend colleges 50 miles away or less, but in-state schools aren’t always the cheapest. Sometimes private colleges cost less than public universities after financial aid and scholarships. Unfortunately, 59% of students say they only look at college price tags when shopping for schools.

2. Check out a school’s graduation rate. Fewer than 60% of college students graduate in six years. Use  CollegeResults.org to find four-year grad rates.

3. College sticker prices are meaningless. Most schools discount prices — 53.5% for private schools and 15% for state schools.

4. Look for the schools with the most generous financial aid packages. Here is a good place to start for colleges with the best financial aid.

5. Find out what colleges will expect you to pay. To do this check out the College Board’s EFC calculator.

6. Apply for aid regardless of your income. Families that make $150,000 to $200,000 can sometimes qualify for significant need-based aid at pricey colleges.

7. Look for merit scholarships. At private schools, 82% of students receive merit aid. An excellent resource for scholarships that colleges offer — the biggest source of college cash — is MeritAid.com.

8. Don’t freak out about poor SAT/ACT scores. You can find the list of colleges and universities which don’t require SAT or ACT scores for admission at FairTest.org.

9. Beware of reach schools. The danger of reach schools is that they often give little or no financial aid or scholarships to students who barely get in.

10. Limit borrowing to federal student loans. Students should only borrow through federal student loans which have built-in repayment programs.

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One Response to 10 Great Ways to Cut College Costs

  1. Tia June 17, 2010 at 9:11 am #

    Hey Lynn! These are great tips. I think one of the things people forget to do is to really consider financial aid when choosing a school. Many (or I’d say even most) kids and parents are more concerned with the various other features of a school, and they save thinking about financial aid to after the decision has already been made.

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