A college degree is your child’s ticket to a diverse number of career options with competitive salaries but earning one doesn’t come cheaply. According to the College Board, tuition and fees at a private nonprofit four-year college averages $34,740 for the 2017-2018 academic year. State residents usually spend around $9,970 for a public college education close to home, while people attending an out-of-state college pay an average cost of $25,620 for their tuition. Many parents end up shouldering a significant amount of that financial burden.
While the thought of forking out that amount of money may make your eyes water, there are several ways to cut the costs.
Choose the College Carefully
Image via Flickr by CollegeDegrees360
Tuition costs vary considerably from college to college. For example, a Texas student could spend roughly $5,316 a year attending a small public university like Midwestern University or $44,694 a year attending a private school like Southern Methodist. Both schools are fully accredited with a history of sending students on to advanced degree programs in law and medicine. A school’s reputation doesn’t necessarily reflect the quality of its education, so do your research and consider the little guys when helping your child select a school.
Encourage Your Child to Attend Community College First
Community colleges are rarely at the top of a high school graduate’s wish list, but these affordable educational institutions can make a great stepping stone. Encourage your child to complete general education classes or an associate degree at an inexpensive community college, then transition to his or her preferred college for more targeted degree-specific courses. So long as your child’s preferred school accepts community college credits, this approach can save your family substantial tuition fees. Some private and out-of-state universities may not accept the credits, so double-check with advisors at the community college and preferred school before your child proceeds.
Research Student Loan Options for the Best Rates
Not all student loans are created equally. Do your research and you can sniff out a great student loan with a low interest rate. Rather than hunting around for the best deal, use a student loan comparison website. These sites let you compare loans side-by-side, so you can avoid paying too much. For example, Credible.com lists student loans with variable rates as low as 3.35 percent, significantly less than the national average.
Encourage Your Child to Apply for Scholarships and Grants
Scholarships and grants from federal and state governments, colleges, and private groups can significantly help offset the cost of college tuition. Encourage your child to apply for as many of these financial opportunities as possible. A credible scholarship should never ask for an application fee. You’ll find plenty of free opportunities through sites like Scholarships.com and the College Board. Get your child to ask his or her high school counselor for details of local scholarship and grant opportunities. Your employer, church, and sporting groups may also offer scholarships or grants.
Tuition’s the largest expense any college kid and their parents will face, but if you’re financially savvy, there are ways to cut the costs.