5 Strategies to Afford College if You’re Not Rich

Barry Lenson

strategies to afford collegeYou want to go to college. But how can you come up with $50,000+ to attend a four-year state school, or with $200,000+ to attend a four-year private college? (That’s about what you’ll pay when you add up tuition, housing, student fees, and other costs.)

That question isn’t only bothering students. It’s troubling colleges too. To fill their classrooms, they need to attract smart students who mistakenly believe that they lack the funds to attend. As you’ll read in “A Nudge to Poorer Students to Aim High on Colleges,” an article by David Leonhardt in The New York Times on September 25, the College Board is launching a program that will encourage 28,000 high school seniors from lower-income families to apply to high-quality colleges.

The underlying message is that if you aren’t rich but you are smart, it makes sense to go ahead and apply to high-quality colleges because they may offer you more financial assistance than you expected. But there are other strategies that can be even more effective than just applying for scholarships. Let’s take a closer look at 5 strategies.

  1. Complete your general education courses online at StraighterLine. If you complete college courses here and transfer the credits you earned to one of StraighterLine’s Partner Colleges, you can trim up to one-quarter of your educational costs. Example: One StraighterLine student named Ife Muyiwa-Ojo completed 30 credit hours of his college coursework at StraighterLine and paid only about $1,500 for all of them. Then he transferred the credits he earned to Western Governors University, a StraighterLine Partner College, and began his studies there to earn a degree in health informatics. This strategy saved him about $9,000. Other StraighterLine students are saving that much money, and even more.
  2. You can borrow a lot of money and expect to pay it back after you graduate and get a job. This strategy was popular about 10 years ago. It’s fallen from favor because so many people have tried it, and are now deep in debt. Everybody now knows that a college degree doesn’t guarantee a high-paying job.
  3. Start at a community college and then transfer into one of your state’s public universities. If you live in Ohio, for example, you could go to Columbus State Community College, and then transfer to Ohio State University.  This strategy does save money. Current cost per credit hour is $132.60 at Columbus State for Ohio residents, which means that a three-credit college course will cost you $397.80. If you can take one year’s worth of college courses at that community college and earn 30 credit hours, you will pay about $4,000 for that year of college. Then you can transfer to Ohio State, which will cost you about $6,000 per year (tuition plus fees).  If you add up those figures, you’ll see that one year at Columbus State Community College ($4,000) plus three years at Ohio State ($6,000 each, for a total of $24,000) will still cost you about $28,000. You can use StraighterLine courses instead of community-college courses in this same strategy, and save even more.
  4. If you’re a veteran, you can take advantage of The Post-9/11 GI-Bill. This bill provides financial support for education and housing if you received an honorable discharge. Certain restrictions apply, so be sure to check them out.  How much money can you receive? It depends, but if you’re a vet and can meet the requirements, this bill can save you money on college. And remember, StraighterLine’s Partner Colleges have admissions representatives who are trained to help veterans finance college.
  5. Attend a college that offers generous financial aid. If you check out the college rankings in USNews, you will discover that some colleges offer financial assistance to 70%, 80%, or even more of their students. But tread carefully and ask a lot of questions, because some of that “financial assistance” could be Federal or other loans that you have to repay after you graduate.

Here at StraighterLine, we don’t think that saving only a few thousand dollars on your college education is enough.  We’re committed to cutting $10,000, $15,000 or even more from the cost of your college education. To learn more, request a personalized degree plan, which will show you exactly how StraighterLine courses will help you earn your degree or call 1.877.787.8375 and speak with an advisor today.

strategies to afford college

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