It’s no surprise to most people that a college education is expensive. And guess what? The costs continue to rise. The average cost of attending a four-year public college is $25,000 per year, according to Education Data. While parents are excited about sending their child off to college, funding their education can be overwhelming. It’s a substantial financial commitment for most families, especially if they aren’t prepared to tackle this expense. However, there are ways to help you and your child ease the financial burden.
We’ve provided eight ways that could help you and your child mange and lower college costs.
Many high schools offer college courses for students during their junior and senior years. So, if you want to get a head start on completing college courses, consider taking them while you’re still in high school. Going this route will lessen the number of classes you’ll have to take in college, and it reduces the length of time you’ll have to attend college. However, the significant advantage of earning college credits in high school is the money you’ll save.
Scholarships and grants are a great way to cut college costs and save money. They provide financial assistance to help with tuition, room and board, books, and other college-related expenses that don’t have to be repaid. The earlier you start applying, the better. The best time to start applying for scholarships is in the child’s junior year in high school.
Also, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application for financial aid to see if your child is eligible for grants and scholarships. In addition, you can find scholarships through colleges, high school guidance counselors, employers, local community organizations, and churches.
The cost to attend a community college is significantly lower than attending a four-year college. According to Education.org, the average price to attend a community college in South Carolina is $4,640 for in-state tuition compared to $12,956 for a four-year public institution. Therefore, your child could save thousands of dollars by graduating from a community college and transferring to a four-year college. However, before going this route, make sure the credits transfer from the community college to another institution.
Having a part-time job while in college has two major benefits. One, you’re earning an income to help with expenses such as books, transportation, food, and other college-related costs. Secondly, you’re building invaluable skills and work experience that will work to your advantage when you start applying for jobs after you graduate.
Does the college offer an accelerated degree program? Many colleges offer this type of program. It allows students the option to complete their college courses in three years instead of the traditional four years. You will save thousands of dollars and time with this option. However, one thing to consider with an accelerated program is the time commitment and the increased academic workload. You may have to sacrifice more time for studying (less time for fun). In addition, the academic workload may be more challenging because you’re cramming a four-year program into three years.
Tuition is only one part of the overall cost of attending college. Another major expense associated with college cost is living expenses. It may be your child’s heart’s desire to live on campus, but it may not be financially feasible to do so. However, there are options. They could become a resident assistant. As a resident assistant, they live on campus and oversee the activities and environment of the student living in that dorm. This position covers the room and board expense.
Another option would be to get an apartment and split the rent and other living expenses with a roommate.
Believe it or not, it’s not every child’s desire to move away from home to go to college and live on campus. Living at home rent-free could save a significant amount of money, especially during the first two years of college.
Textbooks are expensive. However, you could reduce this expense by purchasing used books instead of new books. Another option to help save money is renting the books instead of buying them. You could also ask friends to borrow their books if they’re the same ones you need. If you decide to purchase your textbooks, you could sell them to recoup some of your money you’ve spent on the book.
Create a budget to track your expenses so you can see where to cut unnecessary costs. For example, you may not realize how much you’re spending on coffee from your favorite coffee shop or how much you’re spending on dining out every week. Also, evaluate other expenses such as your cell phone plan to make sure you have the best plan to meet your needs. Are you paying for used monthly subscriptions, apps, and memberships? If so, cancel the ones that aren’t being used to help save you money.
It’s no doubt that college education carries a hefty price tag for most families, especially if they haven’t planned for this expense. However, by planning early and taking steps to lower the costs, you can help ease this financial burden for you and your child that could go along with funding a college education.