COLLEGE SAVINGS 101

Savingforcollege.com

8 ways to cut college tuition
http://www.savingforcollege.com/articles/20100305-8-ways-to-cut-college-tuition

Posted: 2010-03-05 - Erin Peterson is a freelance writer based in Minneapolis.

by Erin Peterson

About the only thing that seems to be looking up in this tough economy is the price of college tuition.

According to the College Board, a year of college tuition and fees at a public university in 2009-10 averaged $7,020, and a year at a private college averaged $26,273. But that doesn't mean that there aren't ways to take the sting out of those prices. Use these eight tactics to lower the costs of tuition.

  • Take Advanced Placement classes in high school. Signing up for AP courses as a high school student won't just have an impact on your brain -- if you're savvy, it can have an impact on your wallet. "If you earn a high score on an AP exam, you may be able to waive some introductory college courses," says Sandra Proulx, community manager for EducationGrant.com in Woburn, Mass. "If you go to a (college) where you pay tuition based on credit hours, it can help you save money. It might allow you to graduate early, or go to school part-time while working part-time.
  • Prepay tuition. If you think costs are high when you start college, just wait until your final year, when college tuition may have risen another 15 percent to 20 percent. Some schools will allow you to avoid that by paying all four years upfront, at this year's prices. College tuition costs have been going up by about 6 percent a year, so locking in a lower rate for four years can make a big impact. "It's like getting a guaranteed return of 8 or 9 percent once you consider taxes, says Kalman Chany, author of "Paying for College Without Going Broke."
  • Stay in-state. If you're considering a public university, try to stick close to home to get the best deal, says Proulx. "Many universities offer different tuition packages -- one for in-state (students), one for out-of-state," she says. "Because state financial aid is so tight these days, these schools tend not to have as much out-of-state aid to offer. The most generous packages are going to go to in-state students. Even if you just take a year's worth of classes and then transfer, that can improve your bottom line."
  • Don't miss deadlines. The deadlines colleges establish for submission of financial aid forms may seem arbitrary, but that doesn't mean missing them won't have consequences, says Joel Peck, owner of Joel Peck & Associates in Pelham, N.Y. "Once you've missed that window, you might still get aid, but you'll start to see a profound shift away from grant money, which will be doled out already, to loan money, which is a bit easier to get," he says. But the loan money, of course, bears interest and has to be repaid.
  • Triple-check your FAFSA and other financial aid forms. Simple errors can have a major impact, says Peck. One small mistake can costs tens of thousands of dollars. If parents accidentally list their assets in the space for the student's assets, "it will skew the entire need-based calculation, because assets of a student are weighted much more heavily than assets of the parents." Because rules change frequently, parents who rely on their knowledge of financial aid forms based on their older child's experience may be hindering their chances for more aid, says Peck. "For example, a 529 plan used to be reported as a student asset, but now it should be reported as a parent asset. Put that information in the wrong spot, and you're working against yourself."
  • Apply to a financial "safety school." Even though you may be brainy enough to get accepted to the Ivy League, that doesn't mean you'll have the means to pay for it. "It's not enough just to hope you'll somehow get enough money to pay for a private college that's $50,000 a year," says Chany. "Having a financial safety school -- whether it's a community college or a state university -- is important if the aid that you get isn't sufficient."
  • Ask financial aid officers to reconsider their offer. Financial aid officers may bristle at the idea of negotiating your aid package, but if your financial situation has changed or financial aid forms don't sufficiently cover your situation, you may be able to get more aid. If a parent has recently been laid off or if someone in the family has required expensive medical care, you may be able to discuss your situation with your school's financial aid office. Be polite, explain your situation clearly, Chany says, and be willing to jump through a number of bureaucratic hoops to show that you're serious.
  • Grab a faculty or staff position at your child's school. If your child's been dreaming of going to a particular school for years, you could score a hefty discount if you can get a full-time job at the school. Some schools may require one or two years service before students can qualify, and others specify that the parent be employed full-time. Some colleges also partner with other schools and offer tuition remission at a number of different nearby or similar schools.

Posted March 5, 2010

About the only thing that seems to be looking up in this tough economy is the price of college tuition.

According to the College Board, a year of college tuition and fees at a public university in 2009-10 averaged $7,020, and a year at a private college averaged $26,273. But that doesn't mean that there aren't ways to take the sting out of those prices. Use these eight tactics to lower the costs of tuition.

  • Take Advanced Placement classes in high school. Signing up for AP courses as a high school student won't just have an impact on your brain -- if you're savvy, it can have an impact on your wallet. "If you earn a high score on an AP exam, you may be able to waive some introductory college courses," says Sandra Proulx, community manager for EducationGrant.com in Woburn, Mass. "If you go to a (college) where you pay tuition based on credit hours, it can help you save money. It might allow you to graduate early, or go to school part-time while working part-time.
  • Prepay tuition. If you think costs are high when you start college, just wait until your final year, when college tuition may have risen another 15 percent to 20 percent. Some schools will allow you to avoid that by paying all four years upfront, at this year's prices. College tuition costs have been going up by about 6 percent a year, so locking in a lower rate for four years can make a big impact. "It's like getting a guaranteed return of 8 or 9 percent once you consider taxes, says Kalman Chany, author of "Paying for College Without Going Broke."
  • Stay in-state. If you're considering a public university, try to stick close to home to get the best deal, says Proulx. "Many universities offer different tuition packages -- one for in-state (students), one for out-of-state," she says. "Because state financial aid is so tight these days, these schools tend not to have as much out-of-state aid to offer. The most generous packages are going to go to in-state students. Even if you just take a year's worth of classes and then transfer, that can improve your bottom line."
  • Don't miss deadlines. The deadlines colleges establish for submission of financial aid forms may seem arbitrary, but that doesn't mean missing them won't have consequences, says Joel Peck, owner of Joel Peck & Associates in Pelham, N.Y. "Once you've missed that window, you might still get aid, but you'll start to see a profound shift away from grant money, which will be doled out already, to loan money, which is a bit easier to get," he says. But the loan money, of course, bears interest and has to be repaid.
  • Triple-check your FAFSA and other financial aid forms. Simple errors can have a major impact, says Peck. One small mistake can costs tens of thousands of dollars. If parents accidentally list their assets in the space for the student's assets, "it will skew the entire need-based calculation, because assets of a student are weighted much more heavily than assets of the parents." Because rules change frequently, parents who rely on their knowledge of financial aid forms based on their older child's experience may be hindering their chances for more aid, says Peck. "For example, a 529 plan used to be reported as a student asset, but now it should be reported as a parent asset. Put that information in the wrong spot, and you're working against yourself."
  • Apply to a financial "safety school." Even though you may be brainy enough to get accepted to the Ivy League, that doesn't mean you'll have the means to pay for it. "It's not enough just to hope you'll somehow get enough money to pay for a private college that's $50,000 a year," says Chany. "Having a financial safety school -- whether it's a community college or a state university -- is important if the aid that you get isn't sufficient."
  • Ask financial aid officers to reconsider their offer. Financial aid officers may bristle at the idea of negotiating your aid package, but if your financial situation has changed or financial aid forms don't sufficiently cover your situation, you may be able to get more aid. If a parent has recently been laid off or if someone in the family has required expensive medical care, you may be able to discuss your situation with your school's financial aid office. Be polite, explain your situation clearly, Chany says, and be willing to jump through a number of bureaucratic hoops to show that you're serious.
  • Grab a faculty or staff position at your child's school. If your child's been dreaming of going to a particular school for years, you could score a hefty discount if you can get a full-time job at the school. Some schools may require one or two years service before students can qualify, and others specify that the parent be employed full-time. Some colleges also partner with other schools and offer tuition remission at a number of different nearby or similar schools.

Posted March 5, 2010

 

Reset email successfully sent.
Please check your inbox.

Close
page loadtime mark

Advertisement


close