Three Highly Effective - and Unusual - Ways to Pay for College

Barry Lenson

Three Highly Effective – and Unusual – Ways to Pay for College

There are many places in life where thinking just a little differently from everybody else results in a giant step forward.

Look at the forward pass. According to an article on Wikipedia, nobody ever threw a forward pass until 1906. Before that, teams tried to move the ball down the field by running full-speed into each other, like Neanderthals. Then some genius thought, “Hey, we could throw the ball and gain a lot of yards a lot faster.” So the forward pass was approved in 1906, and the game was transformed.

Henry Ford was also a guy who thought up new rules. Instead of having a bunch of assemblers build one car at a time, he invented the assembly line. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak did the same kind of thing when they invented the Macintosh computer’s mouse-based interface. Until then, a mouse was something you caught on a glue board. Highlighting a paragraph of text required performing a complex keyboard function, like holding down the Control and Alt keys while pressing “C.” What fun was that?

The point of these musings is to point out that there are ways to think differently about many things – such as paying for college. You could sit at your desk and write a check for the full amount of money that a college wants. But in a sense, that is a lot like playing football without throwing any passes or building a Ford with a screwdriver.

Here are three smart alternative ways to pay for college:

Go to a work college. What a concept! But it is possible. Seven colleges have banded together into the Work Colleges Consortium. They are Alice Lloyd College, Berea College, Blackburn College, College of the Ozarks, Ecclesia College, Sterling College and Warren Wilson College. The deal is that students are expected to work while they attend. Three of the seven colleges charge zero tuition. The rest charge minimal tuition. All are dedicated to graduating students with minimal debt. Think of these colleges as the forward pass of college education – radical thinking that moves the ball forward faster.

Take online courses at close to cost. Think wholesale pricing. You might think that no institutions sell college courses for their real cost. But one does – Because StraighterLine has no gym, administration, lecture halls, climbing walls, lawnmowers, leaf blowers or cafeterias, the cost of a year of college is flabbergastingly low – as little as $999 for freshman year of college. Think of StraighterLine as the Macintosh computer of college education – no complex commands, just education that is straightforward, convenient, state-of-the-art, and economical to use.

Start at an inexpensive community college and then transfer to a state school or other university. This is one of the most well-proven and efficient ways to cut the cost of college by nearly half. To find a community college near you, visit online. Think of community colleges as the Ford assembly line of college education. You put all the pieces together efficiently and end up with an education that is worth two or three times the cost.

Those are three “think different” solutions that can let you complete college without moving to the poorhouse afterwards – or even worse, to debtor’s prison. For brave people with brave new ideas, things have a way of getting a whole lot better.

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