The total cost of college now exceeds $23,000 annually at the average four-year public school in America, according to the College Board. Total yearly costs are twice that amount, more than $46,000, at private schools in the U.S., leading students everywhere scrambling for ways to cut college tuition and other expenses.
With the typical college grad coming out of school with $33,000 in student loans, who can blame students and their parents for doing almost anything to pay for college and lower costs?
But many families are wary of taking on college debt in pursuit of getting a bachelor’s degree and pursuing this aspect of the American Dream.
To avoid student loan debt, and keep college costs under control, try the following two easy, sure-fire methods that can work for anyone.
Take Advantage of In-State Bargains
One of the most obvious ways to reduce your tuition costs is to go to an in-state school, where tuition and fees are much lower than what you’d pay at an out-of-state college.
On average, in-state residents are charged one-third to one-half of the tuition that non-residents are charged for tuition.
One campus with relatively modest in-state tuition is the University of Delaware.
That’s where Chrissi Lockwood was very happy to see her daughter, Kati, go off to school as a freshman in the 2013-2014 school year. Resident tuition at the university was $10,580 for the term.
“She got a scholarship for playing the oboe in the marching band, and it covered nearly all of her tuition,” Lockwood said of her daughter’s $10,000 scholarship.
Kati also received a $400 stipend for being in the school’s pep band. “It’s not a huge amount of money, but it definitely helps with her spending money,” Lockwood says.
Best of all, Lockwood’s daughter is close enough to family, yet far enough away to have her own life as she navigates college issues and plans for her graduation in 2017.
“Kati loves the University of Delaware,” Lockwood says. “She’s extremely busy because she’s a dual degree student earning a B.A. in music and a B.S. in science, in food science. She also made the Dean’s list in the first semester for both schools.”
Proud parents like Lockwood are often coming to the U.S. from other nations too, hoping to give their children a quality education — as well as a chance at a better future.
Immigrants Can Get In-State Tuition Too
Increasingly, students originally born in other countries — including many undocumented immigrants — can qualify for resident or in-state tuition.
In May 2014, Florida became the 20th state in the nation to grant in-state tuition rates to students brought to the U.S. illegally as minors.
As I noted in my book, College Secrets, there are roughly 65,000 undocumented students living in the U.S. who graduate each year from high school. Of those pupils, between 5% and 10% of them attend college, estimates from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities show.
So if you happen to be one of those students, know that you can take advantage of in-state tuition now offered in many states in America.
For the latest info on this trend, check the website of The National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks the topic of tuition for undocumented students.
Take College Courses in the Summer
The second simple way to cut your tuition bill is to load up on college coursework during the summer.
Many colleges lower their tuition rates for students taking summer classes.
It’s easy to understand their rationale. Dorms are empty — or at least nowhere near capacity. Most faculty members are away, and many school programs and services simply aren’t operating at full throttle in June, July or early August.
Thus, summer students can bring in additional revenue for a campus during what’s traditionally the slow part of the academic year.
So if you’re willing to study when your classmates might be working, doing internships or just goofing off at the beach, you can save money on higher education costs.
The University of Texas at Austin has a tuition discount policy in force for students who enroll in summer courses. Tuition for these summer classes is 15% less than classes taken during the fall or spring terms.
Utah State University is promoting its flat-rate pricing structure for tuition and fees this summer. The school boasts that students can take up to 33% off tuition by enrolling in summer classes.
Meanwhile, Indiana University is continuing a summer tuition discount program at six of its seven campuses around the state. Under the deal, students get a 25% discount for classes taken during the summer. An equivalent discount in dollar-terms also extends to non-resident students enrolled at IU during the summer.
By giving in-state programs serious consideration, and not shying away from college classes in the summer, you can lower your tuition expenses and help avoid unnecessary student loans.