Save money: How to reduce the cost of college or get a free education

Save money on college with a strong GPA.  It is the best way to get into college and attend for free.

Save money and seek colleges all over the country that offer a free education.  Schools are looking to graduate the best and brightest students to attract the next generation.

Test scores can get your student a free college education.

Score well on your PSAT, and become a Merit finalist (Scholar, Finalist or Semi-Finalist). Achieving the best scores on the PSAT will open many doors.  Colleges–both private and public–will be contacting you and offering you tuition, room, and board, etc.

Take dual enrollment or AP classes.

By taking dual enrollment classes while still in high school a student saves on the cost of a college class. In a lot of cases, you can start college at a Sophomore level and save a year of tuition.  Taking the AP tests with a score of three or better will give students the opportunity to skip several basic college classes.  By choosing either option, you will save both time and money.  For more information on dual enrollment, you can find what you need from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Look for colleges with strong merit scholarships.

There are many colleges that offer large merit scholarships to attract great students.  These can range from a few thousand dollars up to full tuition, room, and board.  Getting a merit scholarship is not easy. Most schools will have you compete for them by writing an essay or going through an interview process. Usually, private colleges offer larger merit scholarships because they can.  Most private universities have a strong alumni association that donates millions of dollars to help the college attract strong students.  It is also important to consider less selective schools because they tend to offer better merit scholarships in order to appeal to the top students.

Choose a college your student will graduate from in 4 years.

The vast majority of American college students do not graduate on time. By not graduating in four years, it is costing students and their parents millions of extra dollars.  Every additional year it takes your student to graduate from a public four-year college will cost an average $22,826.   It is important for your family to know the graduation rate for all the colleges being considered before making the decision to send in the application.  Keep in mind: for every additional year it takes your student to graduate, it will also cost them in loss of salary, retirement, company car, and promotion timing.   Look for private colleges that have a proven track record of getting their students out in four years.  If you plan properly in high school, your student can graduate from college in three years.  There are classes that your student can take in high school that will count for college.  There are also accelerated college programs with majors that will allow you to graduate in three years.

Look for out-of-state public colleges or international schools with special pricing for out-of-state students.

Many out of state schools offer “special pricing” for out-of-state students. They will either give you the cost of tuition equal to an in-state student or reduce costs to attract students with a diverse background.  Several out-of-state colleges offer merit scholarships for out-of-state students based on their GPA and test scores.  If your student is willing to go to college out-of-state, there are many schools that will offer them outstanding scholarships.  Think outside the box! You may also want to consider International schools like KTH Royal Institute of Technology where you can get a free technological education.

Look for private schools that meet 100% of need.

Do not ever let your financial need keep your student from attending college.  Since every family has a different financial situation, this can be challenging to understand.  I will try to simplify this for you.

Look for four-year colleges that your student may commute to, so you will not have to pay for housing and meals.

The cost of living at college is expensive, and it’s not usually rolled into the cost to attend. Living on campus can range from $8,000 to $15,000 per year. Look for colleges you can drive to, and plan your schedule to attend classes only a few days a week. Another money saving option is to take online classes.  This will not give you the “full college experience,” but if money is what is keeping you from going to college, it is another option to consider.

Take advantage of local community colleges for summer school and winter break.

When your student is home for the winter break or summer, consider having him or her sign up to take a class or two at your local community college. This will allow your student to take some basic classes at a reduced price. It could also empower your student to graduate on time or early.  This is a great plan to save time and money.

Work while attending college, or join the military. There are several colleges that let you work while attending college in exchange for free tuition. Or, you may want to consider committing to one of the nation’s military academies or military colleges where you can attend college for free.


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