By William S. Andrews
Many studies indicate that people who graduate from college earn more money throughout their careers than those who have only a high school education. Some are now starting to argue that the gap is not quite as big as many people have said. Nevertheless, going to college can be a great way to improve employment prospects, and those who graduate from college will in general earn more money than their counterparts with less formal education. Despite these benefits, college can be a very expensive proposition. There are, however, several ways to save money on a college education that will not break the bank.
Get a Scholarship
One of the best ways to save money on a college education is by getting a scholarship. Most people think that scholarships are only for really smart people. It doesn't hurt to be smart, but this is not the only way to earn a college scholarship. There are other ways.
Many companies offer scholarships to employees or employees’ children. For example, if your dad works at company ABC, it would not hurt to see if there are scholarship funds available. Also, if you have worked for company XYZ during high school, checking on a college scholarship fund is a good idea. Many businesses and companies will have these, and a $1,000 or even a $250 scholarship can help.
Local businesses can also offer scholarships. This is one way to build goodwill in the community and a positive brand image. In exchange for your scholarship, the business gets good publicity for its standing in the community.
Finally, certain demographic segments of society can get scholarships. If you are a white male who is 26 with five children, there may be a scholarship for you. If you are a black woman who has just graduated high school, there is also probably a scholarship for you. It does not hurt to search for scholarships on Google that are related to your station in life and your demographic makeup.
Finally, there are also scholarships for smart people. Usually, these are restricted to high school valedictorians or those who score a certain score on the SAT or ACT exams. Study hard, and do well. You may just save money.
Earn College Credit in High School
Many people have been unaware of this possibility, but high school students can earn college credit before graduation. Several colleges set up onsite dual credit classes on high school campuses. In this way, students can take college classes from qualified teachers while still enrolled.
The best part about dual-enrollment classes is the cost. In many instances, it is possible to take these classes for a fraction of what they would cost to students who take them while enrolled in college. In some instances, students can complete most of the first year of classes before they start college. Most of these classes will transfer because they are handled by accredited colleges and cover general education subjects that basically all colleges and universities will require of their students.
Take a Challenge Exam
Students who are about to embark upon their college careers may want to try and earn credit for what they already know. There are a couple of common tests that students can take to earn college credit. The first is the Advanced Placement or AP exam. These challenge exams are available for students who take part in classes at their high school that have been approved by the College Board. Many colleges will accept these exams for credit, provided that students earn an acceptable score.
CLEP tests are similar vehicles that allow students to earn college credit before beginning school. These tests are not based upon classes that are already taken. Students can study for them outside of school and they test what students already know. Those who earn an acceptable score can earn credit at many colleges.
Go to Community College
One way that is available to just about anyone that can save money on college expenses is by attending a community college. These institutions of higher learning that lead to a two-year associate's degree or certification are generally open enrollment. This means that they accept anyone who is breathing and has a pulse.
They are also quite a bit cheaper than their four-year brethren in most instances. Community college can cost a fraction of a four-year, state-subsidized college. Students can earn a two-year degree that will qualify them to start right into a four-year program with about 60 credits already on their transcript. This means that they will only have to pay for two years at the higher rate, which is a substantial saving on the cost of college. If some of the tactics mentioned above were utilized, it may take just a year to earn the two-year degree and the savings can be even greater.
College can be quite expensive. The costs can cause many people to think twice about attending. However, there is no need to pay the full sticker price at a four-year school. There are several ways to save money on college, and some of them can lead to substantial college credit before a student even leaves high school. Also, it is possible to get a job or work from home to earn some money to offset the costs. What methods have you used to save money on college?