One of the most common reasons young people don’t start college directly after they graduate from high school is because they think they can’t afford it. If you find yourself caught between being too poor to afford college but too wealthy to qualify for need-based financial aid, don’t lose hope. There are ways to help reduce costs so you can afford a college degree in a wide array of fields without burdening yourself with unnecessary debt. Options for study include both in-person and online opportunities.
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1. Try Online Degrees
Online degree programs offer affordable options for as little as $4,000 a year in a variety of fields including business. Whether you’re going for an MBA or online social work degree, almost anything can be done from your couch. These online venues also save you money in transportation fees, and they offer students the flexibility to juggle other obligations including work and family.
2. Attend College Abroad
Another affordable way to earn your college degree is to do it overseas. Some international colleges offer low tuition and courses in English to attract American students. Along with lower tuition prices, many international colleges let you earn a bachelor’s degree in three years, which reduces the cost of college even more. Those who are fluent in a foreign language have the opportunity to save even more, because they are not limited to overseas schools which offer courses in English.
3. Earn Transfer Hours at a Local Community College
Another way to save on college costs is to take advantage of your local community college. It takes some research to identify foundational courses that will transfer to the college of your choice, but it is time well spent. In many cases, students earn an AA or AS degree before transferring, and in many colleges this guarantees entry as a junior with full transfer credit. Community colleges are less expensive and allow students to live at home, which saves on housing costs, too.
4. Work-Study Jobs Help Reduce Costs
The FWS Program provides funds for part-time employment. This program is designed to help reduce the need for private loans that cover tuition costs. Students taking part in the FWS Program can be employed by the institution itself, a federal or state entity, a private organization, or service jobs like tutoring. As part of the application process, students must file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
5. Merit Financial Aid
If you’ve investigated traditional financial aid routes including grants, loans, and scholarships and have had every door closed, don’t give up. Some financial aid is not based on need. For instance, you can save $40,000 to $80,000 with merit-based scholarships. The idea behind these scholarships is to have the colleges vying for the best students rather than the students competing to get into the best colleges.
When looking at the cost of college, it is important to look at the big picture. The cost of attendance is more than tuition. Factor in fees, books, and room and board, as well as personal and travel expenses.