College Expenses: Seven Ways to Save on an Education

Many people graduate from college owing thousands of dollars in student loans. It isn't uncommon for students to graduate owing $30,000 to $40,000. For people that get married shortly after graduation that means starting out with around $80,000 in debt. Thats a lot of debt for a young couple just looking to buy a house and possibly replace their aging vehicles.

While you may not be able avoid taking out a loan for college, here are six tips to help minimize the cost of your college education.

  • Choose an affordable school. Quality of education is not directly related to the cost of education. Usually you have several options cover various price ranges. State schools are partially funded by the government, so they are often less expensive.
  • Consider changing your residency. Most state schools offer greatly reduced rates for residents. Depending on what is required to establish residency, it might be work moving before starting college in order to get the less expensive tuition.
  • Take a summer job. Getting a summer job that can give you lots of work hours can significantly reduce the amount you need to take out in student loans. You have to save the money you earn in order to have it available for school expenses. If you can find a job that is related to your area of study, it will not only help you financially, but help make you a better student as well. Ideally find a job where they can use your help when you are on spring and Christmas break.
  • Look for scholarships. Many scholarship programs have been cut back in recent years, but there is still money available. Check with your financial aid department. Also check with your professors. They often know of scholarships that are handled on a departmental level instead of through financial aid.
  • Try to get a job tutoring. Work study usually isn't at a very high pay rate, but getting paid to teach your favorite subject will often make you a better student while giving you some extra money for expenses.
  • Consider the total cost. Don't just look at the cost of tuition when evaluating a school. Keep in mind other factors. If a nearby school would enable you to live at home, it might be much less expensive than a distant school with cheaper tuition. If you wouldn't need a vehicle at one school, it might be much less expensive than on that would require your own transportation.
  • Consolidate college debt. Once you've graduated look for programs that will let you consolidate any debt that you have at a low interest rate. This will allow you to put more money toward the principle and pay it off quickly.
  • For more information and strategies for staying out of debt, visit the Debt Reduction Blog.

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