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College Admissions: 7 Ways to Cut College Costs by Up to $120K

Monday, June 25, 2012

 

A penny saved multiplies by the thousands when you follow these tips for cutting college costs.

With the cost of a four year education now exceeding $200,000 at many private colleges and $100,000 at public universities, families are searching for ways to afford college. Students are amassing huge debt, often without seriously considering the options. Here are some of our top strategies that can help you cut college costs by 25-50%.

1. Complete your degree in 3 years.

There are a growing number of colleges now offering a 3 year route to a bachelor’s degree. Hartwick, Bates, Lake Forest, Seattle U. and UNC Greensboro all have 3 year programs. In reality, you can structure your own path to a 3 year degree at many universities if you minimize your electives, take an extra course each semester, enroll in summer courses and/or maximize your AP credits. At a private college, this could mean more than $50K in savings!

2. Apply to colleges where you fall in the top 10-20%.

Most colleges determine merit aid based on your GPA (some also use SAT/ACT scores and/or leadership roles). You are unlikely to receive much merit aid at your stretch schools, and you will often get the most at your backups. You can see GPA and SAT ranges to gauge where you stand at sites like Collegedata.

3. Opt for a Co-op.

Students earn significant money at paid internships through colleges with co-operative education programs. Purdue co-op students take home approximately $2300 per month and Cornell engineering co-op students around $3700 per month.

4. Cross the border or hop across the pond!

You can go to the FINEST colleges in Canada, Scotland or Ireland for about half of what it costs to go to most private colleges in the U.S. Tuition, books, room and board at McGill or St. Andrew’s total approximately $28,000 per year. Stack that up against George Washington University’s whopping $58,000 per year, and you could save more than $120K over 4 years.

5. Give back to your country.

Programs like the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), Teach for America, City Year and Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) provide funds during college or help pay off loans in return for a service commitment after college. 

6. Stay in New England.

The New England Regional Student Program allows students to attend another New England state university, if a program of study that you wish to pursue is not offered in-state. Rhode Islanders can study Environmental Engineering at UNH, Russian at UVM or Interior Design at UMASS, just to name a few options. The savings? About $28,000 over 4 years!

7. Consider Community College.

Most colleges today have a number of core courses you must take. A great way to save money is to start out at community college fulfilling these requirements. Then, transfer after your sophomore year. Most Community Colleges also have articulation agreements with dozens of 4-year colleges that guarantee acceptance if you have a certain GPA (usually around 2.5).

Cristiana Quinn, M.Ed. is the founder of College Admission Advisors, LLC which provides strategic college counseling, SAT prep and athletic recruiting services www.collegeadvisorsonline.com.

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