Reducing College Costs

College is expensive and college costs continue to climb every year but there are ways to help manage the rising costs.

  1. Apply for financial aid – even if you think your family earns too much money to qualify, send in the forms.
  2. Look for scholarships – scholarships are available to students that aren’t based on need.
  3. Apply for loans – many student loans do not require payments until schooling has been completed.
  4. Apply for grants – Grants give students money that does not have to be paid back after graduation.
  5. The Federal Student Work Program provides jobs to students.  These jobs often relate to their field of study, allowing students to get real world experience.
  6. Look for jobs through your academic institution.  Some schools offer jobs that come with tuition discounts and wages.
  7. Programs such as AmeriCorps, Vista, the ROTC and the Peace Corps will help pay off student loans or provide funds during college in exchange for a service commitment upon graduation.
  8. Tax breaks on 529 plans and larger deductions also are available.
  9. Take the first two years at a community college. Pick one that has an articulation agreement with a four-year university. It’s quite common and specifies which community-college credits will be accepted toward a bachelor’s degree at the four-year institution.
  10. If attending a four year college, take summer school at a community college near home.
  11. Get college credit early. Many high schools offer college-level classes to prepare for Advance Placement exams.

Paying for the basics

  1. The cheapest living is living at home with mom and dad, if you can.
  2. If you are planning on or required to live on or near campus, don’t buy the most expensive meal plan if you are not going to use it.
  3. Furnish your room with great finds from thrift shop rather then new decor.
  4. Be a resident assistant.  This job is typically open to undergraduate students and provides students with discounts on room and board.
  5. Ask your family to buy a home.  It may seem like a crazy idea but renting out other rooms can offset monthly mortgage payments.
  6. Paying for textbooks often costs college students nearly a $1000 a year.
    1. Purchasing books online using sites like,, and College Book Swap can help with the high costs of books.
    2. Avoid purchasing books when they are priced the highest, August, September, January and February.
    3. Purchase ebooks, ebooks are generally much lower in price and provide students access to the same information.
    4. Look for free books, one company, Freeload Press, provides some electronic texts free of charge.
    5. Consider international editions of books, some international texts are cheaper then US versions but contain the same content.
    6. Share books with other students or use a library copy.
    7. Resell your books when you are through.

College students typically have a small budget so maintain it well.  Little things add up quickly.

  1. Having a car can be a major expense if you are paying the bill.  If it is possible for you to walk or take the bus, do so.
  2. Compare cell phone plans, some carriers offer special discounts to students to help generate business.  Take advantage of these deals!
  3. Shop around for your computer.  It is hard to get through school without a computer but you can find great deals on computers if you shop around and compare prices.
  4. Find out if you are being charged for health care coverage from the academic institution, it may be duplicating the coverage you are already receiving from your parents.
  5. Stay on track in school, by graduating in four years or less, you can avoid any additional debt.

All of the tips and information above was provided by First Tax Solution LLC.