The college experience is priceless. However, the total cost of earning a degree has skyrocketed in recent years. Besides considering degree programs that position you for high-paying careers, you’ll want to minimize the costs of higher education by taking heed to these five tips.
#1 Pursue Scholarships and Grants
Scholarships and grants provide college students with free money for college tuition, housing, and books. The money is “free” because you don’t need to repay it as you would a loan. However, nothing is truly free. You’ll spend time researching and applying for the right scholarships, and many of the applications require letters of recommendation and essays.
If you’re an undergraduate student, you’ll find sources of scholarship income within your chosen university, some volunteer organizations, and even your church. If you’re pursuing an advanced degree or a professional, check out the offerings of non-profit industry organizations and trade associations such as the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). The LSAC lists scholarships for law students on its website.
#2 Consider Online Study Preparation
Acing a standardized test gives you an edge with admissions offices at top schools. Many students and their parents now seek tutors who specialize in preparing students to get their best marks on these important achievement tests. Paying high per-hour rates for tutors can put a big dent in your budget before you even step into a college classroom. Look into self-guided alternatives to lower your costs for college study preparation. For example LSAT prep online is an affordable alternative to hiring a tutor or taking classes. You can get online study programs that are 100 percent free or ones that are fee-based.
#3 Live Off-Campus
Depending on the location of your chosen school, off-campus living might be more affordable than residing in the dorms. Off-campus living gives you the opportunity to find less expensive housing and share it with other students as a housemate. If your rental home has a backyard, talk to the landlord about growing your own vegetables in a raised bed garden to save on your food bill. Assess transportation costs. Does the city have reliable, affordable public transit that can get you to class on time? If so, the cost benefits of living off-campus can outweigh those of living in your school’s dorms.
#4 Apply to be a Resident Advisor in the Dorms
Whether students experience a real emergency or just a college prank, the dorm’s resident advisor is on high alert. These trusted positions are granted to graduate students of good character who want to live in the dorms while attending school. As payment for their duties, they usually receive free housing, which can significantly cut down on their school expenses.
#5 Enroll in an Online Degree Program
The cost of online education is generally less expensive than traditional classroom programs, and some schools pass the savings along to their students. You’ll also eliminate transportation costs by attending school online. You don’t need to leave your home to take online classes if you have adequate internet access. Many online schools are dedicated to eliminating dependence on paper-based books and learning materials. They offer students free access to digital versions of textbooks.
Tuition, housing, and transportation are the main costs that university students incur when earning undergraduate and graduate-level degrees. With some research and planning, you can save money in these areas and significantly lower your overall higher education costs.