• WisBusiness

Monday, August 30, 2010

Got the campus blues? Ways to trim your college costs

By Kevin Reardon
Here's a new twist on an old saying. There are three things in life that are certain: death, taxes, and college costs that go up every year, even during a recession. How can students and parents avoid the "extreme borrowing" phenomenon that can lead to years of burdensome loan payments? They can start by looking for ways to trim college costs so they won't have to borrow and/or pay as much in the first place.

Easier said than done, you say. Perhaps. But here are some practical steps you can take to ease your bottom line college experience:

Pick a college with a lower sticker price

Pricey private colleges often like to point out that the majority of their students don't pay the full "sticker price." The problem is, you never quite know how much, exactly, their students are paying. Every student's aid package is different, and the presence of merit aid awards makes the picture even murkier. Private colleges with the biggest endowments can afford to be the most generous (replacing loans with grants in aid packages, for example, or guaranteeing merit aid for all four years), but not every private college can do this. Even if a college takes $15,000 or $20,000 off its sticker price, that may still leave $30,000 or more to pay each year.

In the past few years, enrollment at public colleges has soared due to their lower sticker prices. Typically, public colleges are half the cost of private colleges and, for in-state residents, the savings can be even greater. Education experts often debate the benefits of spending more money to attend a well-known, more prestigious private college vs. a public college. But it's generally agreed that motivated, bright students can succeed anywhere, and that after a certain period of time, job experience matters more than where you went to college.

Consider taking a year off

The number of students taking time off between high school and college is growing in a measurable way. This period, commonly referred to as a "gap year," is typically spent volunteering, traveling, working, and/or interning. One of the main benefits of a gap year is the increased maturity and focus that comes from engaging in new experiences. These traits can help students get their money's worth in college by sharpening study habits and career goals. Another benefit is the potential to earn money to pay for college. For example, working full-time for 42 weeks (10 months) at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour equals about $12,180 before taxes. Or, for the volunteer-minded, the AmeriCorps program currently provides a modest living allowance and a stipend in 2010 of $5,350 in exchange for service work (future stipends will be tied to the maximum federal Pell Grant). In addition, more than 80 colleges now offer matching grants to students who earn an AmeriCorps stipend (see www.americorps.gov for more information).

Tweak the typical four-year experience

If your child doesn't mind forgoing the typical four-year college experience, here are some ways to trim costs:

* Attend a community college for one or two years, then transfer to a four-year institution

* Take AP high school courses to earn college credit and reduce the time in college

* Look at colleges that offer three-year accelerated degree programs

* Consider living at home and commuting to school to save on room-and-board costs

* Research online education options (check out www.distance-education.org)

Research scholarships

After your child fills out the federal government's financial aid application (the FAFSA) and the college's financial aid application (the standard PROFILE application or the college's own form), he or she should set aside as much time as possible to research and apply for scholarships. With online searches, students can easily input their talents and background and get a filtered list of relevant scholarships (try www.fastweb.com or www.collegeboard.com). Also, don't forget to check with your employer and the local chamber of commerce for scholarships.

Budget well during college

Encourage your child to look for deals on mandatory items like books, supplies, and other personal dorm room items. For discretionary items, establish guidelines for a reasonable amount of monthly spending money, but build in flexibility. If you do co-sign a credit card application with your child (a co-signer is now required in most cases for applicants under 21), make sure your child doesn't succumb to the temptation of easy money. According to a study last year by Sallie Mae, the average college student has $3,200 in credit card debt. Discuss your expectations of credit card usage and make sure your child understands how interest accumulates on unpaid monthly balances.

Trimming college costs will require some discipline and thorough planning. However, the financial savings will be well worth it.

-- Reardon is a financial planner and president of Brookfield-based Shakespeare Wealth Management Inc. He is also a member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA).


Comments: 7

At August 31, 2010 at 3:29 PM, Blogger Dokemion said...

William R. Goldfarb Memorial Scholarship

The ARRL Foundation Inc. Scholarship is for baccalaureate study in the fields of business, medical or nursing, sciences, or engineering. The applicant is required to be a licensed amateur radio operator. The applicant is required to establish financial necessity.

school grants

At May 11, 2016 at 12:36 PM, Blogger aliya seen said...

Ir become easy to answer that how to write a supporting statement for some purpose because this statement will help in job experience matters more than where you went to college.

At March 15, 2017 at 4:04 AM, Blogger sarahofalk said...

good When done, you can open up the remote app and also Kodi APK you are utilizing Kodi on a pc or Mac, you could make use of nice.

At April 25, 2017 at 6:13 AM, Blogger triciagonzalez said...

Concerning the features of the Web Client, it'll maintain WhatsApp for iPhone silence the discussion on your iPhone. You can likewise.

At May 19, 2018 at 2:36 AM, Blogger Allen Wood said...

Encourage your child to look for deals on mandatory items like books, supplies, and other personal dorm room items. ADM-201 question answer

At January 4, 2019 at 3:26 AM, Blogger Towelroot said...

gta san andreas Download latest version of GTA San Andreas APK for Android for free, including GTA San Andreas MOD APK with unlimited money in a highly ...

At May 13, 2019 at 9:13 PM, Blogger Sophie Grace said...

very nice posts. really to be appreciated awsome and a great stuff keep posting like this.having a great smile here .too good lewis capaldi net worth


Post a Comment

Back to BizOpinion main page

: See newer blog items : : See older blog items :

BizOpinion site feed

wisbusiness.com Social News

Follow Us

Site Sponsors


· January 2009
· February 2009
· March 2009
· April 2009
· May 2009
· June 2009
· July 2009
· August 2009
· September 2009
· October 2009
· November 2009
· December 2009
· January 2010
· February 2010
· March 2010
· April 2010
· May 2010
· June 2010
· July 2010
· August 2010
· September 2010
· October 2010
· November 2010
· December 2010
· January 2011
· February 2011
· March 2011
· April 2011
· May 2011
· June 2011
· July 2011
· August 2011
· September 2011
· October 2011
· November 2011
· December 2011
· January 2012
· February 2012
· March 2012
· April 2012
· May 2012
· June 2012
· July 2012
· August 2012
· September 2012
· October 2012
· November 2012
· December 2012
· January 2013
· February 2013
· March 2013
· April 2013
· May 2013
· June 2013
· July 2013
· August 2013
· September 2013
· October 2013
· November 2013
· December 2013
· January 2014
· February 2014
· March 2014
· April 2014
· May 2014
· June 2014
· July 2014
· August 2014
· September 2014
· October 2014
· November 2014
· December 2014
· January 2015
· February 2015
· March 2015
· April 2015
· May 2015
· June 2015
· July 2015
· August 2015
· September 2015
· October 2015
· November 2015
· December 2015
· January 2016
· February 2016
· March 2016
· April 2016
· May 2016
· July 2016
· August 2016
· October 2016
· December 2016
Copyright ©2013 WisBusiness.com All rights reserved. | WisOpinion.com | WisPolitics.com  |  Website development by wisnet.com LLC  | Website design by Makin’ Hey Communications