Sometimes the cost of financial aid doesn’t cover what you and child need for their education. However, there are ways to save money on college costs if you think creatively.
Consider Community College
Community college isn’t just an opportunity to save money on the overall college experience, it’s also a great stepping stone into college life.
Attending a community college can save you thousands of dollars on the first-year tuition, especially if your child chooses a school close to home where you’ll benefit from State-related aid. In some cases, it can save you upwards of $30k in just one year of their education.
Shaving two years off a pricey college makes a significant impact on the financial future of your child.
Live At Home or Off-Campus
If your child is staying close to home for college, consider that they continue living with you. Living in a college dorm and paying for the meal plans (which are usually required for dorm residents), ends up being a hefty chunk of change.
If they’re not close enough to live at home, another cost-saving option is to live off-campus in a shared apartment. Colleges typically hike up the price of dorm living. Meaning in certain cities and states, it can actually be cheaper for your child to live in an apartment with roommates.
Whatever the case, look at the cost comparison and see what makes the most sense financially. It might be easier to live on campus, but if it lessens the amount you’ll spend each year it’s worth considering other options.
Keep Applying for Scholarships
A lot of students stop applying for scholarships after their first year of college, yet there are a ton of scholarships out there for current college students.
In fact, students who apply for financial aid free with FRANK also get fresh, human-reviewed scholarship alerts.
Make sure your child continues to look for ways to get more money for college by showing off their academic achievement and talents while they’re still in school.
Consider A Tier 2 University
If your child is an “A” student looking to attend a Tier 1 school, consider one of the equally prestigious Tier 2 schools.
These schools are just as good, and generally, they’re trying to attract “A” students. Typically, exceptional students that opt to attend these schools get merit-based aid they wouldn’t get at a Tier 1 school.
In fact, the merit-based aid often makes it possible for them to save up to 50% off tuition. It makes it possible for your family to save money while also giving your child a competitive education.
Take College Courses in High School
If you haven’t considered it already, see if your child can take college-level classes at their high school.
Many high schools offer Advanced Placement (AP) courses that are made of college-level curriculum. If your child passes the AP exams, they’ll receive college credit for the classes, and likely won’t have to take them in college.
If your high school doesn’t offer AP courses, there are still ways to take college classes. Your student can consider taking GE classes at a community college during their summer vacation or in the evenings. In-state community colleges are typically low cost and offer several cost savings for local students.
Get Creative With Textbooks
Textbooks are one of the most significant expenses for college students and often don’t get covered by a lot of college aid. However, there are ways to save money.
Make sure your child reads their syllabus and knows what they need. Some books are available for free at the library, where they can check it out and copy the pages they need (if they’re listed in the syllabus).
Additionally, Amazon Unlimited offers the option to check out textbooks and, if they don’t have the required textbook, they also offer a textbook rental option.
As a last resort, your child can also buy the book used online or at the bookstore. While this option may still be pricey, it does save you money in the end.
Avoid The Meal Plan
While a meal plan might seem like the easiest choice, it can also be costly. Most universities require your child to be on the meal plan when they’re in the dorms. In this case, opt for the cheapest meal plan and budget for weekly shopping trips.
There are plenty of quick, healthy, low-cost meals you can get at the grocery store. Compared with the cost of the meal plan, they’re likely much cheaper and will save you money in the long run.
Make A Budget
Lastly, nothing helps you save money more than making a budget and sticking to it. Sit down with your child and decide on monthly spending ahead of them going to school.
With a budget in place, you’ll both be clear on what you will and won’t be spending money on.
It’s not always easy to find ways to save money when you’re not provided the financial aid you need. Make sure you get the most of your aid package by filing for FAFSA® early (it’s first-come, first-serve, after all).
No matter what your aid package, these tips will help save you money on your child’s education.