Cutting Down College Costs

Most students know that college is a huge investment. However, many high school students who have yet to begin the application process might be surprised to learn just how big an investment it is. The average college student from the class of 2015 graduated with a degree and upwards of 30,000 dollars of debt. Although some debt may be inevitable, read along to learn about ways to minimize costs so you don’t have to continue paying for your degree many years after you’ve earned it.

Paying for college can feel like burning through some serious money

Public or Private?

Public universities and colleges present a comparatively budget friendly option when compared to the much heftier price tag associated with many private schools. Beware, however, of out-of-state costs: attending a school like UC Berkeley as a non-California resident could set you back just as much as some of the priciest private schools. Indeed, Berkeley isn’t alone in its practice of inflating tuition for out-of-state students so as to offset the costs for in-state residents.

That said, public school isn’t always the cheapest option. Certain private schools with big endowments have the ability to be generous with financial aid: Harvard and Stanford, for example, do not charge tuition to students whose families make less than $65,000 annually. Of course, to take advantage of these schools’ policies, you have to be able to get in.

Calculate your financial aid:

Before finalizing your college list, be sure to crunch some numbers using the FAFSA financial aid calculator to get an estimate of the amount of aid for which you qualify so that you know roughly what you can expect. Let these estimates guide your college search.

Apply for scholarships:

Beyond need-based financial aid, you can research merit scholarships using one of the many search engines that allow you to filter opportunities based on your qualifications. If you’re already in college, investigate schoolwide scholarships — these draw from a smaller, localized pool of applicants.

Commute from home or live off campus:

Depending on your family’s proximity to your school, you may be able to by-step thousands of dollars in housing fees by commuting to campus from home. If this isn’t an option, research costs for living off campus on craigslist or facebook housing groups (although whether it is cheaper to live on or off campus depends on the real estate market in your area). If you have access to a kitchen, either on or off campus, make use of it! Cooking for yourself can prove healthier, tastier and less expensive than a college meal plan.