Believe it or not, private colleges can be less expensive than state universities. Why? Private colleges have generous alumni donors and have more merit aid available to award to incoming students. State universities give few merit aid scholarships. Just because the price tag might appear out of reach, the aid your student receives could offset that high price tag.
7. Graduate in three years, not four (or five)
The trend is for college students to take four to five years to graduate, with most students taking five years to get their degree. Imagine the amount of money you can save if your student completes it in three years. If they take advantage of AP and dual credit, it’s not reaching for them to finish up early.
8. Save on the “extras”
Most parents don’t realize that tuition, room and board are only part of the actual cost of college. You can save money on room and board by having your student apply as an RA (resident assistant), buy used textbooks or rent them instead, and look closely at the meal plans. Be realistic about how many meals your student will eat on campus. They should also take advantage of all student discounts for food and travel.
9. Look at the figures from each college
Do your research and look at the colleges your student expresses interest in. Compare their financial aid awards and the amount of aid awarded to incoming students each year. Look at the scholarships available and apply if your student qualifies.
The price tag you see on a college education is just like the sticker price on a car. There is always room for negotiation, especially with financial aid awards. Asking for more aid is common and many parents have garnered thousands more just by asking. If you have special circumstances (loss of job, family illness, etc.) you can request a re-evaluation of the aid awarded as well.
Federal parent and student loans are always available to supplement the unmet need by the colleges. However, recent statistics show that graduating with enormous amounts of debt negate the college investment. Be a wise consumer and use those loans sparingly and as a last resort. Your student may have to turn down their first choice college based on the financial figures, but in the long run they will thank you when they graduate with little or no debt.
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