7 Ways to Reduce the Cost of College

7 Ways to Reduce the Cost of College

With the average sticker price of college ranging from $28,840-$60,420 (Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid) per student per year, it adds up to a lot of money for a family with multiple kids! That is why the best way to prepare for this cost is to start saving early. Another strategy is to reduce the cost of college. If your child is 0-5 years away from going to college that is the best time to explore ways to reduce the cost of college. Most of these strategies need to be activated before your student applies to college to be effective. By discussing options now, you can choose actions that will work best for your student, and having a plan will make picking a college more joyful for the whole family.

Below are 7 ways to reduce the cost of college:

1. College Credits in High School

Your student may be able to earn college credits by taking Advanced Placement Courses in high school. Your student could earn enough credits to be done with college in 3 years instead of 4.

2. Start at a Community College

The first two years of college are mostly satisfying core education requirements, which can be taken at a community college at a much lower cost than at a university. With careful planning, the student can then transfer to a 4-year college to complete their degree.

3. Regional Tuition Exchange Programs

Your student may be able to go to out-of-state college at a discounted price with tuition reciprocity. You will have to meet the criteria to qualify for this tuition-saving program. Click here to learn more.

4. Apply to Generous Schools

Some schools are more generous than others. Choose colleges that have a high percentage of students who get their financial needs fully met, receive need-based/merit-based grants and continue scholarships beyond the freshman year.

5. Apply for Private Grants & Scholarships

Applying for private scholarships takes time and patience, but there is free money out there for college. Very large awards are very competitive, so you will need to have realistic expectations. It is more likely that your student may win small grants that could cover a small gap in funding.


6. Graduate on Time
Apply to schools that have a high graduation rate and invest in your student picking the right fit school to minimize the chances of transferring colleges (which is the leading cause of late graduation).

7. Prepaid College Plan

Prepaid college plans can help you avoid rapidly inflating college prices. By locking in current tuition rates for future studies you can pay less for college.

Unlike student loans and work-study, which do not reduce your cost of college but help you pay for college, these 7 strategies can save you a lot of money. The key to a successful college plan is getting started as soon as you can. My son will be graduating from UCSB in a few weeks, and he did it in 4 years! I am proud, but also grateful that we set expectations for his success – a win-win strategy.

Vida Jatulis
Vida Jatulis

Vida joined our MainStreet Financial Planning team in 2022. She utilizes her life and work experiences to help clients develop an action plan for a vibrant and healthy financial life. Vida is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional with a Master of Science degree in Investments and over 15 years of experience as a Financial Planner, Wealth Advisor, Pension Consultant, Trust Officer, and Portfolio Manager. In addition, Vida has personal experience with struggling and succeeding to reach milestones such as purchasing a home, putting kids through private school, saving for college, achieving debt free status, saving for retirement, raising a family on a single income and much more.

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