The financial burden of post-secondary education is a heavy one for students and families, but there are many ways to lower the cost of college tuition and other fees. Budgeting for college should start as soon as possible in a child’s life. No matter their eventual career path, planning ahead to cover post-secondary financial needs can help cut down on both the costs and the anxiety associated with college expenses.
Don’t wait for the high school years to start putting pennies away for college. If you plan ahead, 529 college savings plans can help offset the costs of tuition. In most education savings plans, the choice of college is not affected by the state the plan is from, meaning a 529 savings plan can be used either in or out-of-state.
Consider Dual Enrollment Courses While in High School
Students can take control of this anxiety and get a jump on their college career by taking college-level courses while still in high school. Depending on the state you reside in, the cost of the college courses could be absorbed entirely by the institution, or provided at a significant discount. Dual enrollment not only gives families an opportunity to save money in advance of starting college, but it can also shorten the future college stay, thereby saving even more money.
Take Summer Courses
Many colleges lower their tuition fees for students who attend during the summer. As with dual enrollment, this has the short-term advantage of immediate tuition discounts. It could also shorten the college stay, which saves money in the long run as well.
Limit Living Expenses
Housing and meal plans are another major part of college life that should not be overlooked when making a budget.
School dorms can be expensive, and students should always consider their off-campus housing options. Living at home is the cheapest option, but only if you live close to the college. Often times there will be shared houses available to rent close to campus.
If you know how to shop (and cook!), preparing meals at home can often be considerably cheaper than using your school’s meal plan. If you’re good in the kitchen, consider reducing your meal plan, or dropping it all together.
This sounds counterintuitive, right? After all, traveling anywhere, let alone out of the country, is expensiv