A Guide On How to Go Back To College: Part Six (Page 2)

Here are some ways to reduce the overall cost of college as well as some of the most common sources of financial aid for college used by non-traditional students:

Attend a Lower Cost School: It may seem obvious, but some schools are just less expensive than others. Look seriously at all schools that meet your academic and financial needs. And don’t assume that one type of education is automatically cheaper than another: there are some online college tuitions that are higher than their traditional counterparts – at the same school!

Transfer Credits: Consider starting out your college experience at a 2-year community college or at an online program. Later on, you can transfer those college credits to a 4-year program per applicable transfer processes. Be sure to understand how the credit transfer process works at your current school and the school you plan on transferring to before you enroll. Already have existing credits? Whether these were earned through previous college experience, training through work, or through a prior learning assessment, use them to help accelerate your advancement through a degree completion program.

Take Fewer Credits: Students who are able to receive college credit prior to attending college, and are then able to apply those credits to their college of choice can potentially have a much lower overall cost of college. They can reduce college costs by either decreasing the number of semesters it takes them to graduate or by reducing the number of credit hours they need to take per semester. There are several ways to earn college credits before going to college: Advanced Placement Programs (AP), passing CLEP exams, or through a Prior Learning Assessment (PLA).

Use Current Income: 78% of college students work while in school. On average, employed students spend almost 30 hours per week working while enrolled.5 You should expect to pay some of your college costs out of current year income. How much? That depends on your financial situation. Colleges assess financial need based the information provided by you on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)6 form. Once processed, your relevant financial information will be sent to the up to 10 colleges you indicated on the form that you are interested in attending. When it comes to financial aid forms, pay attention to deadlines. From federal to state to colleges you are applying to, they may all have their own unique deadlines for forms and information. Keep in mind, financial aid decisions will be made independently by each college according to their individual process and timeline. You want to get your information in on time so you can be in consideration when it comes to being eligible for financial aid funds.

Tuition Reimbursement: Many companies offer tuition reimbursement benefits to their employees. In general, these tuition reimbursement programs allow an employee to work towards a degree or take classes relevant to their position and have some or all of that money spent on tuition and fees reimbursed. Check with your employer -- don’t leave money on the table.

5 ACE, Working Their Way Through College, May 2006.,br> http://www.acenet.edu/AM/Template.cfm?template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentFileID=1618

6 http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/