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Conquering the High Cost of College

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Conquering the High Cost of College

With the national economy still fragile and many Americans struggling just to make ends meet, what’s the best way to tackle the high cost of college? Explore a number of strategies to make college more affordable.

Unless you’re a football or basketball high school stand-out with serious scholarship prospects, entirely avoiding the high cost of college probably isn’t possible. However, you can take steps to offset or minimize what you pay for that sheepskin.

According to The College Board, one year of tuition and fees at a private university now cost a whopping $26,273, while that education costs $7,020 per year at the average state school.

Financial Aid Helps with the High Cost of College

Of all undergraduate students, over 60 percent received some type of financial aid in 2015-216, with the average amount being $9,100, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

  • Scholarships and grants. More than half of undergraduates received grants. All students hoping to secure financial aid should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) no later than February 1 of the year they intend to begin their studies.
  • Loans. Two-thirds of four-year college graduates incurred some debt to pay the high cost of college, with the average being $23,186. But think carefully before taking on debt, and apply first for government loans for students with favorable interest rates.
  • Tax credits and deductions. The federal government has a variety of tax credits and deductions designed to minimize the high cost of college. These include allowing withdrawals from Individual Retirement Accounts tax-free to pay for college, hefty tax credits such as the Hope Scholarship and Lifetime Learning credits, and federal income tax deductions for student loan interest payments.
  • Pay as you go. Working your way through school may not be your ideal way of dealing with the high cost of college, but it’s an option. Increasing numbers of students attend college part-time while also working. Even if you go to school full-time, the federal student work-study program pays you at least the minimum wage for 10-to-15 hours of work a week.

With careful thought about your post-college career aspirations and some advance preparation, the high cost of college can be made manageable.

How to Go to College for Free

The College Board reports that student tuition at American universities continues to rise more quickly than inflation. At an average cost of $24K a year (not including room and board), many worry about their ability to cover escalating educational expenses. However, what if there were a way to keep college prices in check? What if you could go to school for free?

How To Slash Tuition Prices and Go to School for Free

If you really do some digging around, you might be surprised what you find. It may take a little more time and energy upfront, but if you can avoid paying $24K a year in tuition prices, isn’t it worth it? Below are some of the more popular methods for reducing some or all of your college fees:

  • Apply to a tuition-free college where prices are nonexistent. In exchange for a free education, these programs ask you to volunteer 15-30 hours every week in a work-study program.
  • Apply for scholarships. There are hundreds upon thousands of scholarships, ranging from $50 to full rides. In most cases, the only real cost is effort. If you write the essays, obtain some recommendations, lick a few stamps, and stay on top of the deadlines, you could amass enough free money to cover all of your collegiate expenses.
  • Join the armed forces. The Active Duty M.G.I. Bill provides up to $37K for tuition prices. Get an education, stay in peak physical shape, serve your country, and walk away with little or no college debt.
  • Ask your employer for help. If you are going back to school to earn a degree that could somehow benefit your current company, your boss may be willing to help cover some or all of the expenses. In exchange, you might be expected to stay on the job a few extra years so that the company can earn a “return” on its investment.