Nobody ever said that attending college was going to be easy. In fact, with the downward spiral of the recent economy putting the crunch on public services across the board, schools are placing more and more of the burden of paying for higher education on the shoulders of students. Even in cases like California, where colleges and universities face caps on the percentage that tuition can be raised each year, schools are finding ways to supplement the money they are losing from the state by implementing outlandish fees (what exactly does a student union do that they need a hundred bucks from every student, every semester?). That said, it is now more important than ever to take advantage of the opportunities available to students looking to save money on their secondary education.
Save Money By Attending A Community College
If you are one of the millions of scholars that find yourself overwhelmed by the prospect of coming out of college with thousands of dollars worth of debt, then you should know that there are still ways around paying full price. For starters, you can consider taking two years of general education courses at a community college. The benefits of this decision are more than just financial (although they can’t be overlooked, community college will cost you only a fraction of what you’ll pay at a state college or university). Most community colleges accept nearly everyone, so if you weren’t so studious in high school, you still have a good shot at acceptance. Furthermore, if you do well in a community college setting, it will increase your chances of gaining entrance to the university of your choice (not to mention boosting your consideration for scholarships). Finally, you should know that the general education classes offered at community colleges adhere to the same standards as other state institutions, so you are getting almost exactly the same education at far less cost.
Take Advantage Of Scholarships
If, on the other hand, you find yourself already attending a four-year program and piling up the debt, there is still help to be had. Many students can take advantage of federal financial aid by simply filling out the form (www.fafsa.ed.gov). Or if that route has failed to produce enough money to really help, consider using the internet to your advantage. Sites like www.fastweb.com and www.scholarships.com cater to students by offering a wide variety of scholarship opportunities. By filling out a profile, these sites will deliver a list of applications (mostly essay-based) that fit your particular talents and interests. And prizes can range from $50 to $50,000, with some essays being as short as a paragraph. It’s worth spending a little extra time to try nabbing one of these scholarships, and many of them have multiple awards, so you can apply more than once in a year.
These are just a few of the options available to the industrious student seeking money, but the main thing to remember is that help is out there. From deals on textbooks (www.back2college.com/library/text.htm, www.cheapesttextbooks.com) to discounts on food and movies (flash your student I.D. to find out which merchants offer student discounts), there are all kinds of resources you can take advantage of to save money during your stint in school. You may have to put in some time and effort to find them, but if you come out of college with little or no debt, it will be well worth the weight off your shoulders.
Do you have other suggestions of ways to save on your college education? Resources for finding financial aid? Places to save as a student? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!