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The cost of a college education is quickly rising. In 2010, the last year for which official data was available, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that tuition at a public four-year university averaged $15,014, while tuition at a private four-year university averaged $32,790.
It’s no wonder that most students graduate college with crippling levels of student loan debt.
Fortunately, there are ways to make the cost of a college education more manageable. Here are a few ways that you can save money on college tuition:
Start Studying Early
Many high schools offer Advanced Placement or dual-enrollment courses that allow students the opportunity to earn college credit. The number of credits will be determined by the college where the students eventually enroll. However, many ambitious students have been able to place out of a year’s worth of college courses through credits from these classes taken in high school. A year’s worth of classes could add up to more than $30,000, depending on the school.
Start with Community College
The National Center for Education Statistics reported that tuition at public two-year universities was $7,703 — a fraction of the cost of any four-year university. Students can save at least a full year’s worth of tuition at a public school by attending community college for the first two years and then transferring to a four-year university. The savings could be even greater, depending on what community college you attend and the college you ultimately attend after transferring.
Go to a State School
The cost savings between a public and a private university is obvious. Unless you are majoring in a highly specialized field, attending a prestigious private university will not make you any more competitive in the job market — but it will put you in much more debt after you graduate.
Choose a state school and you will pay far less than in tuition. Many state schools are becoming more competitive academically, as well, which means it may be the better option for you in all respects.
Take Online Courses
Some online programs can be less expensive than traditional programs. While state schools will be the most budget-friendly option, online courses can cost far less than tuition at private universities. Taking online courses also provides you the flexibility to continue working so that you can produce an income and minimize your debt.
Choose an Accelerated Program
You don’t have to take four years to complete your degree. Many programs are available to complete your degree in three years or less — depending on your program of study. Some certificate options can even be completed in a year or less, giving you the same earning potential as a traditional degree. Accelerating your program will save you thousands of dollars in tuition for each year you are able to shave off your completion time.
College tuition will only continue to rise. Unless you are able to find scholarships and grants to help you pay for your education, you will need to finance your program and take on a massive amount of debt. These suggestions can help you save money on your tuition so you can reduce that debt load and start your career with as little debt as possible.
Author Bio: Heather Green is a Christian mom, freelance writer, pet lover and the resident blogger for OnlineNursingDegrees.org, a free informational website offering tips and advice about medical transcription degrees and online resources.