Thursday, July 7, 2011

3 ways to cut the cost of a college degree

College is expensive. Tuition rates are going up due to budget cuts. Many prospective college students and their parents are trying hard to figure out ways to finance the education. Before you scramble your finances, did you know that there are ways to almost instantly cut your college costs? By quite a large margin?

If you are still in high school and planning your junior or senior year, think about taking AP classes. These classes have the potential to give you college credit for a high school class. These classes will be tougher, but they will also teach you study skills needed for college. You will have to get a passing score on the AP exam at the end of the class. Did you know that getting credit for AP classes can lead to more scholarship money? One big reason to take an AP class is that it counts as a college class. One that you would have spent time and money on in college. That's right. Tuition is expensive. By eliminating classes you need to take, you instantly lower the cost of a degree. It has also been shown that students taking AP classes are more likely to finish college in four years, unlike others. Talk to your school counselor for more information.

Speaking of not having to pay for college classes, have you heard of CLEP? The College-Level Examination Program, or CLEP, gives you college credit for taking a test. Why take a class if you already know it? There are 33 examinations for college credit in a wide range of subjects. The cost of the test at this moment is less than $80. You could get credit for a whole class for that price. Many colleges and universities charge $300-$500 for each unit! A 3 unit class would cost a minimum of $900! Keep in mind too, that many colleges are now limiting the number of units you can take each term. They used to be quite generous. They would charge you per unit up to a level of around 15, then anything over that was the same price. They are now limiting how many untis you can take. Instead of being able to take 21 units, you are maxed at 16. The less classes you need, the better and cheaper for you!

Much is made about where you graduate from college. It might be true in rare cases, most often it does not matter where you graduate from. If worse comes to worse, pick the cheapest, closest college that fits your needs. But before you think about graduating, think about the first two years. The first two years of general education are probably the same no matter what your major. You can do the first two years at a local community college for very cheap. The tuition will be thousands of dollars less. Many local junior colleges have agreements of guaranteed admission with some state colleges if they graduate from the two year school. You can also earn an associate degree in probably something in or close to your major. Not only will thins save money, but the degree will look good on your resume. Most community colleges allow high school seniors, some juniors, to take college classes. Get these classes out of the way now, and you graduate sooner. Graduating sooner means less money out of your pocket!

If your goal is to get a degree, and you are willing to look at all options, you can make college cheaper!

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