10 Surprising Ways to Pay Less for College


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College is just around the corner. And, for many students, so are college loans. With all of the excitement of a new adventure, new classes, new classmates, and burgeoning passions, the cost of tuition can be a downer.

But it doesn’t have to be. There are many ways to lower the cost of tuition. We want to help you get a fantastic education for a fraction of the cost. So, here are ten surprising ways you can attend college for less and possibly graduate debt-free.

1. Skip University and Go to Community College

This suggestion isn’t set in stone, but it is an excellent way to lower costs. Attending your local college is cheaper than attending a 4-year public university and way cheaper than a 4-year private college.

It also gives you a slower start to independence and smaller classes. If you transfer to a 4-year university, your general courses will already be taken care of — for a lot less money.

2. Find and Apply to Scholarships

Your guidance counselor may advise you to search for scholarships before heading off to college. But to lower your tuition costs, you should apply for scholarships throughout college.

Apply to any that you may qualify for, such as those geared towards academics, athletics, music, or, if you’re really serious, humor. Lend your funny bone to the Make Me Laugh Scholarship and get paid. Yes, this is a thing.

A few tips regarding scholarships:

Work on a passion project throughout college. Your dedication can help you when applying.

Apply to local scholarships first, as there will be fewer people to compete with.

3. G-O In-State! G-O Public University!

Out-of-state sounds super exciting, right? Yeah, but it’s not exciting for your pocket. The average cost of an out-of-state college compared to your homegrown school can be double, triple, or more!

You don’t have to go in-state, but its an excellent way to avoid unnecessary loans. Now, if you have scholarships and grants out of this world, feel free to go to whatever school you want.

4. Stay in the Dorms Your First Year Only

Live in the dorms your freshman year. Get the full experience. But, save yourself some money by hightailing it out of there for the rest of your college career.

For most people, staying at home or getting an apartment is much more affordable. Also, while you’re attacking your independence like a dog attacks a bone, you can boost your cooking skills. Yes, you’ll need those well-earned skills for the rest of your life.

So, save some money, and stay in your comfy room or apartment.

5. Live the Minimalist Lifestyle

To save a ton of money, get rid of much of your things. Many minimalists swear that removing unnecessary clutter from their lives freed them to find their true values. As you set forth as a college student, clearing your space may help you focus on what you really want. And what you really don’t.

Also, with less stuff comes less maintenance, fewer upgrades, less hassle, and so you will have more money to spend on your passions.

6. Get a Sibling Discount

You may have heard of discounts for the children of alumni, but did you know you can use your siblings as coupons, too? Kidding, your siblings are lovely. The reality is that many colleges will discount your tuition if your sibling is already enrolled.

Contact the financial aid office and see what they have to offer.

7. Graduate Early

Are you impatient to graduate? Do you want to save a year of college tuition, rent, transportation, and other expenses? Well, if you are willing to do the work, you can graduate in three years rather than four. Some colleges have accelerated degree programs where you can work your butt off to finish early.

8. Find Dirt Cheap Textbooks

For many students, textbooks can cost upwards of $1,000 per semester. Here’s a few ways to get some cheap textbooks:

  • Request your class and book lists as early as possible
  • Ask professors if the textbook is used often and if you can use an older/international version
  • Browse your college’s library for the book
  • Purchase copies from older students
  • Book share with your classmates

9. Don’t take out private loans

Private loans are the worst. Avoid them if you can. Unlike federal loans, which offer a ton of leniency with repayment, privates loans are designed to eat your money. They can be challenging to repay and have little to no debt forgiveness.

Just say no. There are tons of ways to finance your education.

10. Add a part-time job or side hustle

In your spare time, make some extra cash through a part-time job or fuel your entrepreneurial spirit with a side hustle.

Either of these activities can help you repay debts and avoid the broke-college-student-eating-ramen-noodles stereotype. Win-win.

These are just ten ways you can reduce the cost of college. There are many more out there.


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