Great Savings Tip #97 – Save On Education

 

The Javabird Great Savings Tip Series continues.

 

Today’s tip: Spend Less On An Education

 

This tip is number 97 out of 100 in our Great Savings Tip Series—designed to help find ways to spend less and save more. For more ways to save money see our Great Savings Tips page with a complete list of all our tips.

 

Is It Worth It?

 

What skills do college graduates lack?

How much will it cost to graduate?

Tip #97) Spend Less On An Education. We’re all told the way to get ahead is to get a good education.  In fact, a good education will open up certain opportunities.  However, according to a recent article at MSNB.MSN.com:

“A study of more than 2,300 undergraduates found 45 percent of students show no significant improvement in the key measures of critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing by the end of their sophomore years.”

 

Now, when you read statistics like these, it really starts to make you question the value of attending a college.  And here’s something else to consider: According to Forbes.com:

 

“In 2010, student loan debt eclipsed credit card debt for the first time, and it is not unusual for students, especially med students, to graduate with six-figure debt. Student loans are far more cumbersome than regular credit card debt, and borrowers can spend decades paying off their debt.”

 

So how do you get your money’s worth when it comes to higher education, not to mention avoid taking on a mountain of debt?

 

 

 

 

A campus courtyard.

If you're planning on attending college plan ahead and save.

 

Try these 9 tips for saving money on college:

 

(1) Skip or delay going to college. Unless you know why you’re going and what you intend to achieve there, college can be a huge waste of time and money.  In the four years you attend classes (classes that may turn out to be irrelevant down the road), you could be well on your way to establishing your career.  Or you could be earning money for school and learning real skills by joining the military.

 

Don’t take this wrong—we don’t advocate anyone skip college or join the military without considering all the factors and/or risks involved.  We also recognize that college or other post secondary education can be very important for furthering a career.  Yet to spend money wisely, start by figuring out the actual courses or programs that will be most relevant to your chosen field.  Sometimes a shorter or more specialized “certificate” program will give you everything you need to get going and you can take a class here and there as needed.  In fact, most companies want to see you continue your education and will sometimes offer tuition assistance to help you along.

 

(2) Get grants. If you need to finance your education, apply for grants and scholarships starting in your junior year of high school.  Many of these programs have strict deadlines so get friendly with your school counselor and get their assistance with fulfilling any and all the requirements.  If you qualify, grants and scholarships can significantly cut the cost of your education—and in some cases pay for everything.  Also, rest assured that colleges like well-rounded students so be sure you’re joining after-school activities that you can include on your college applications.  For more information on grants, see the governments student aid website by clicking here.

 

(3) Use Federal loans. Do everything you can to avoid financing your college education with private loans.  If you must get a loan, stick to federally backed student loans, like Stafford loans, if possible. Private loans cost far more in the long haul due to significantly higher interest charges.

 

A campus dorm.

Can you live at home? It can mean saving thousands.

 

(4) Save before you go. If you start saving early enough, you can significantly reduce the amount you’ll need to borrow for college.  Plus, saving actually reduces your overall costs.  This is because interest charges eventually get tacked on to all those student loans.  Those extra charges can double or even triple the cost of your education over the long haul.  Plus, student loans are treated differently than other types of debt.  Not only can the IRS take payments out of any tax refunds, but these loans are almost impossible to discharge in bankruptcy.  For more information on why student debt may not be your best option see this Boston.com post.

 

(5) Get on a fast track. Find out how to get on a fast track program.  You can often take college credit courses as a senior in high school, or take additional credits over the summer.  That means it’s possible to turn a 4 year program into a 3 year program and save up to one quarter on the cost of your education.

 

(6) Get a certificate. Go to a community college and get an AA degree or certificate instead of a 4 year bachelors degree.  Or transfer to a 4 year college once you’ve completed some of your core requirements at a community college.

 

(7) Go public. Generally (though not always) it pays to attend state colleges over private ones.  State tuition’s have been climbing, but not as fast of private ones.  Find a state school that offers your major and a good private one.  Now compare the cost for 4 years.  Unless the private school can offer you grants or scholarships, or is a truly a superior school, you’ll save a bundle by going public.  For more specific information on the differences in the cost of public version private education see this post from the CollegeBoard.com.

 

A college student taking a break from classes.

Getting a college degree may not make sense for everyone.

(8) Stay closer to home. Though there’s a lot to be said for getting away from parents and family as you become a young adult, it’s a fact that you can significantly cut the cost of college if you can stay home and attend a school nearby.

 

(9) Take on-line courses. You can take online courses from many state colleges and universities as well as some of the top private colleges in the country.  One advantage of online education is the huge convenience from studying at home, not to mention the savings from traveling to classes (or housing if you attend an out of the area institution).  For other advantages to taking online classes, and for links to online programs see this post from OEDB.org, or check with your local state college.

 

For a complete list of all our Great Savings Tips click here.

 

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