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  • 5m.

    3 Ways To Save Thousands Of Dollars On Your College Education

    From moving off campus to enrolling concurrently, you can take some simple steps that could shave a lot of money off your college costs.
    By Diane Melville - Updated: April 5, 2018

    What You'll Learn

    • The benefits of concurrent enrollment.
    • Why you might want to move off campus.
    • Ways nontraditional students can save.
    Man on a steps with a laptop

    Looking for ways to bring down the yearly cost of your college education? Well, look no further! I've found three things that may college student could potentially do to save tens of thousands of dollars.

    1. Concurrent Enrollment

    Transferring credits to a 4-year university isn't just for community college students. Current college students enrolled at a university many simultaneously take courses at a local community college and transfer those credits back to their institution.

    How It Works

    • Find a local community college or online university that has an articulation agreement with your current college (this info will likely be on your school's admissions or transfer student webpage).
    • Check with your counselor/adviser to see which courses make the most sense to take elsewhere.
    • Register at that community college/online university, take the course, and check back in with your counselor/adviser for help to transfer the courses back to your school.

    How It Might NOT Work

    • Some universities charge a flat-rate tuition regardless of how many credits you're enrolled in (meaning, you could take 10 credits or 18 credits and still be charged full tuition each year). This is the exception to the rule.
    • Reducing your credit hours can reduce your financial aid as well. On the other hand, if you add external classes to your existing college course load, you could easily overwork yourself.
    • Your school may have a limit on the number of outside credits that you can transfer in. Be sure to check with your counselor on this before enrolling in too many outside credits.
    • You need to earn at least a C (sometimes higher) in outside courses in order for the credit to transfer.

    Depending on the number of credit hours your school allows you to transfer in, you could save tens of thousands of dollars with this method! A similar option (with similar limitations) is taking CLEP or DSST exams. Students can pass these for college credit, and they typically require less time or money than a traditional course.

    2. Live Off Campus

    According to The College Board, room and board (housing and meal plans) cost students from $8,400 to $13,800 in 2017-2018, depending on their degree program and type of college they attended (it hurts just typing those numbers). One way to minimize this yearly cost is by living off campus with friends.

    When you live off campus, the money you would have spent to live on campus (meal plan and housing costs) is either refunded to you (if you are on scholarships or financial aid) or deducted from your overall cost of attendance.

    How It Works

    • Find a group of friends you can share a place with off campus.
    • Speak with your school's housing office to find out how to transition from living in a dorm to living off campus.
    • Search for off-campus housing (on websites like Craigslist, PadMapper, etc.) to find something relatively close to your school that will end up costing everyone less than what you'd be paying by living on campus.
    • Calculate and divide all expenses among the roommates (rent, food, utilities, etc.) to minimize the individual cost to everyone involved.

    How It Might NOT Work

    • Please, please pick responsible friends! The last thing you want is to miss a rent payment because one person in the group was irresponsible.
    • Ideally (and if applicable), make sure everyone's parents are in the know, just in case of any mishaps. They may need to co-sign the lease, as well.
    • Some schools do not allow students to live off campus until their junior or senior year.
    • Be sure to speak with your financial aid office before you sign your lease. Your financial aid award may be based on your decision to live on campus. Your award may decrease by moving off campus and cause you to borrow more money than you had originally planned.

    3. Buy Your Books Online/Share Textbooks

    This is a pretty straightforward one. We all know textbooks are super expensive (the average student spends at least $1,200 each year on books—no matter what type of school they attend), and you can easily avoid paying ridiculous premiums on new textbooks by purchasing your required textbooks online and/or sharing the cost of your textbook with friends.

    How It Works

    • Search online retailers (websites like Amazon, Chegg, Bookscouter, etc.) to find a used copy of the textbook that you need.
    • See if your school has an online marketplace (on Facebook, for instance) where you can buy, sell, or swap books with other students.
    • If sharing, find a friend who is taking the same class as you to split the cost of the textbooks.

    How It Might NOT Work

    • Double-check to ensure that you buy the right edition of the required book. If you accidentally buy an older version, you may miss crucial sections.
    • If sharing a textbook, settle upfront how you will share it. Everyone has their own study habits (some like to study in the a.m. vs. p.m.), and you don't want to be fighting for rights to a textbook hours before an exam.

    For Nontraditional Students

    If you're a nontraditional student, you may already be doing some of these things (living off campus) and may not have time for others (concurrent enrollment). However, you still have options that can help with the costs of education.

    First, make sure to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). There are no age restrictions for receiving federal financial aid. Also, look for scholarship opportunities; many scholarships have no age limits and specifically target older students. If you're working, check with your human resources department to see what tuition assistance opportunities may be available.

    Por Diane Melville - Actualizado: 5 abril 2018
    Man on a steps with a laptop
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