College is a time for academic challenges, personal growth and professional opportunities; unfortunately, many students feel their time at college is often overshadowed by their looming tuition bill. According to USA Today, student debt was at $1.2 trillion in 2015 and has continued to grow as tuition and associated fees continue to rise. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to cut down on those costs and make the most of your college experience.
Look for an Affordable College
Tuition varies greatly between schools, so students should take that into consideration when selecting a college. For example, students may want to consider a college located in their home state because in-state tuition tends to be much more affordable than out-of-state tuition. Other factors, such as independent versus public schools, can also play into the cost of tuition.
Furthermore, you might consider colleges that offer fixed-price tuition. There are hundreds of universities and colleges in the U.S. that offer this type of billing. By attending an institution that offers fixed-price tuitions, you can rest assured that your bill will not increase from year to year. You’ll pay the same tuition for your senior year as you did for your freshman year.
Carefully consider your options and choose the school that fits your academic and career needs and your budget the best.
Apply for Grants and Scholarships
In addition to carefully selecting your school, you can help reduce your tuition by applying for grants and scholarships. According to Forbes, 89 percent of freshmen in independent colleges received an institutional grant, which covered 54.3 percent of tuition fees. College Foundation of North Carolina (CFNC) is a great resource for students looking for scholarship opportunities.
Additionally, students should apply for their share of the $120 billion in federal and state grants, loans and work-study funds available through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Each year, more than 13 million students get funds through the FAFSA to help pay for college or career school. Just be sure to pay attention to deadlines and submit your form on time! Fewer than 50 percent of high school seniors in North Carolina have completed the FAFSA, but it’s not too late to be considered for award money. Get help paying for higher education and pave your own path to success by completing the application!
Break the Mold
Finally, it’s alright to think outside the box when it comes to saving on that tuition bill. Attending a community college is a great way to save on tuition bills and possibly even housing as many students choose to live with their parents while earning their associates degree.
Many students also opt for the two-step college path. This approach involves enrolling in a local community college, earning your associate’s degree and then transferring to a four-year institution to complete your bachelor’s degree. There are also many certifications offered at community colleges that may satisfy your career goals without needing a bachelor’s degree as well.
Check out UNC-G co-admissions programs with Guilford Technical Community College, Alamance Community College, and Rockingham Community College and the UNC Pembroke program with Robeson Community College.
You could also save on tuition costs by taking courses in the summer rather than just during the fall and spring. Summer courses tend to be offered at a discounted rate and still count towards your degree. With those extra summertime classes, you may even be able to graduate early and save yourself a semester or even a year’s worth of tuition.
There is no one way to pursue your education. Take time to consider your options, and choose the path that’s right for you. Visit CFNC.org today to learn more about how to plan, apply and pay for college.