4 Tips For Choosing Your Cheapest College Option
Getting a college education is no longer just about the classes. Particularly during times of financial crisis and rapidly increasing college tuition costs, earning a college degree is the result of a delicate balance between choosing the right school at the right cost. Graduating college already in major debt due to educational loans is not the best idea, particularly when high paying entry-level professional jobs are also hard to come by. These four tips can guide any student in choosing the most economical option for higher studies.
When people think of college costs, most people think only of tuition and room and board, but the reality is that there are hidden costs involved in getting a college education that can add up into thousands of dollars. These hidden costs include money for textbooks and supplies such as laptops, tablets, cameras and other electronics as well as money to pay for cell phone, cable and Internet bills, living essentials and transportation costs. For students who will be living in dorms or away from home, there are additional costs involved from furnishings to food. These costs do not include other miscellaneous expenses such as entertainment or travel expenses.
2. Community College
Community colleges are significantly cheaper than even state schools, so for students who are concerned about how to pay for college and are trying to avoid hefty loans, choosing to go to a community college for the first couple of years can save thousands of dollars. Even better, community college graduates can also look for special scholarships or programs designed for community college transfers into four year schools that can make the complete cost of a 4-year education much more economical and manageable. All schools keep money earmarked for transfer students, so community college transfers can take advantage of this type of financial aid to help offset their costs.
3. Online Schools
pAnother option for cheaper college costs is to look at online schools that offer degree programs in the area of interest. The savings in online education are not based so much on the tuition costs but on all those other hidden costs that students often forget to think about. Online distance learning means that the student does not have to leave his house and spend money on transportation or snacks, for example, to complete the coursework. Students can also live at home while completing their education, which means there are no additional room and board expenses or decorating expenses.
4. Scholarships, Grants and Other Creative Ways
The cheapest college option is not always necessarily the one with the lowest costs. Earning a cheap education at a top school can also be achieved by earning scholarships, grants and other creative funding. There are many ways of doing this. First, students should not be afraid to go back to the school and ask for more money once they receive their financial packet. The key is to sell themselves very well by presenting and highlighting all their strengths. This can earn the student a significant increase in their financial aid packet. However, funding is not limited to this, and students should be proactive in looking for scholarship and grant opportunities and applying to them. It is worth it to invest some time to research the many different scholarships out there, from race to gender to interest to location. There is a tremendous amount of scholarship money out there if the student simply knows how to look for it. Choosing accelerated degree programs, such as those that offer a four-year degree in three years, can also be a way to earn a cheaper college degree.
Patrick Jordan is a career counsellor and guest author at Best Colleges Online, a site with guides to finding the cheapest online colleges.
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