Anyone who’s taken a peek at the latest higher education costs is probably wondering, “When did college start costing as much as a house?” Fortunately, there are ways to help pay for a college education. Here are just a few:
1. Seek scholarships. Full scholarships may be difficult to get, but there are plenty of small scholarships available from individual schools as well as community and fraternal organizations. Check out Web sites such as www.fastweb.com, www.collegeboard.com and www.scholarships.com.*
2. Accumulate free credits. If your child takes advanced placement or international baccalaureate classes in high school, he or she may be able to test out and get credit for certain college courses. Ask your student’s high school guidance counselor or check with the college or university of your choice for credits they will accept.
3. Take the fast track. Although it may mean a lot of late nights, your child could load up on college credits during regular semesters, take summer classes and finish a degree in three years instead of four, saving an entire year’s worth of tuition, room and board costs.
4. Transfer. Many students are finding that they can significantly cut the cost of higher education by spending their first two years at an inexpensive community college and then transferring to a more prestigious four-year college to complete their degrees.
5. Find a free ride. Some colleges offer free tuition in exchange for work on campus or volunteer work, but there may be other requirements, such as residency, test scores or financial need. A few high-profile colleges and universities, including Harvard and Stanford, have announced they won’t charge tuition to qualified students whose family income is below a certain level.
Save and Borrow
Your best bet for covering college costs may be to do it the old-fashioned way – start saving now. Coverdell education savings accounts and 529 savings plans can help you save on a tax-advantaged basis.**
And if grants, scholarships and savings fall short of your needs, consider taking out a subsidized or unsubsidized student loan.
* Web sites provided for information only. No endorsement is implied.
** Eligibility restrictions apply. Nonqualified distributions are subject to ordinary income tax and a 10% tax penalty. Consult a tax advisor for more information.