6 Timely Tips to Help Pay for College
The escalating price of paying for college has hit everyone, regardless of income. Many colleges cost triple or even quadruple what they did in the 1980s.
Further complicating matters is that many families have no idea how schools set their pricing. Consider that two-thirds of students don’t actually pay the sticker, or full price. The question is, how are they receiving those cost breaks? At Partners For Achievement, we work with families to answer that question and many more about paying for college.
The top three ways to reduce the sticker price are need-based financial aid, merit-based scholarships and private scholarships. But there are other effective strategies for bridging the gap between what a school costs and what a family can afford, including:
If you challenge yourself in high school with an AP-heavy curriculum, you may place out of certain classes in college. The caveat is whether the particular college accepts AP credits, but we’ve had students at PFA who have earned their bachelor’s degree in three years based on their rigorous curriculum in high school. This is a great way to help pay for college.
Some school districts partner with their local community college to offer dual-credit classes, for which students receive both high school and college credit. For instance, District 204 in Naperville, Ill., offers several courses in conjunction with the College of DuPage, the local community college.
Establishing Instate Residency
Students who are considering out-of-state public universities should inquire about this possibility. The payoff is potentially immense. In California, for example, establishing instate residency can amount to a $30,000-per-year savings or more at some of the state schools.
Becoming a Resident Assistant (RA)
In exchange for being in charge of a dorm floor for a year, a student receives free room and board. This year, one of our PFA students shaved $17,000 off her college costs by being an RA.
To afford the school of their choice, some students take a couple classes at their local community college or online in the summertime. It’s an inexpensive way to build up credit hours.
The 2 + 2 Strategy
This involves enrolling in community college for two years to knock off your core credits before transferring to a four-year school. For example, Illinois offers several of the best opportunities in the nation in this regard. Some of our PFA students do Engineering Pathways, whereby they earn an associate’s degree at a community college and then transfer directly into the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s engineering program. This results in a four-year college expense of around $75,000 instead of $140,000.
Part of the PFA High School Program includes guidance on how families can reduce the cost of college. For more information about PFA’s High School Program click here.
Kevin Krebs is the founder of Partners For Achievement. Read more about Krebs and the rest of the Partners For Achievement team.