Clever Ways to Pay for College

The rising cost of college tuition is staggering. According to the Institute of Education Sciences, the average cost of a 4-year institution is an amazing $32,475 for 2009-2010, up from $8,672 in 1980-81. $32,475 is for each year, making a four year ride cost nearly $130,000!

There are homes that sell for less than that.

So it’s no surprise that many families are trying to find ways to help pay for college outside of the usual scholarships and student loans for undegraduate programs. The problem becomes even more acute with graduate programs, where students must turn to a Discover graduate loan to help pay for out of pocket costs associated with school.

Apply to Small Scholarships

Find the local organizations in your neighborhood who offer small scholarships. These are small $250-$500 scholarships where the competition pool is smaller and the requirements looser. $250 may not seem like a lot compared to a thirty thousand dollar annual bill, but every little bit counts. Since it’s local, competition won’t be as stiff so your kid’s likelihood of winning increases.

Take Those AP Courses

If your child can graduate early, that’s money saved to the tune of $32,475 per semester. Taking a few Advanced Placement courses means some hard work now but they can finish early and save you a lot of money. Plus, AP courses tend to place them out of the introductory level courses which are typically held in early morning hours.

Start at Community or Junior Colleges

Community and junior colleges are cheaper, much cheaper, but their credits typically transfer to “regular” two and four year institutions. It makes sense to start taking classes there in order to get a few credits, similar to AP, before moving up to the big (cost) leagues.

Look for More Sophmore Year

Sometimes scholarships go unclaimed in the second year as students drop out, change majors, or otherwise forget to send in the proper forms. Take advantage by finding out if any unclaimed scholarships are out there that your kid could qualify for. The best way to find this is to go to the financial aid office and ask for any available options.

These are just some of the ways you can use creativity to battle the rising costs of college.

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