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How to Make College Affordable

by Deneene Merchant on April 24, 2017

It’s no secret that the cost of a university education has been on the rise in recent years, and many families and students struggle to afford four years of college. Since 1980, tuition costs have shot up at twice the rate of inflation. A family earning an average income used to be able to cover a year’s tuition with just 13 week’s of work; today, it costs about a year’s salary to pay for just one year of college.

To make ends meet, many students are forced to take out sizable loans to cover the costs. This has led to a massive increase in student loan debt: A 2016 college graduate is likely to be carrying over $37,000 in total student debt.
Still, a college degree is a crucial investment in the future, and college graduates earn 84 percent more than those with only a high school diploma — and over a lifetime, that adds up to the difference between living comfortably and struggling to make ends meet. Fortunately, there are some ways to cut back on costs along with other methods for how to make college affordable.

The Rise of Two-Year Colleges

Two-year colleges — also known as community colleges — are most students’ best bet for making their college degrees more affordable. They offer the same general education credits as four-year institutions, but at a much lower cost. This is a great way for students who aren’t sure of what they want to major in to explore their options while saving on their coursework.

Two-year colleges also offer the flexibility to live at home instead of on campus, and many students find it easier to balance a part- or full-time job while attending their classes — both of which also help balance the budget.

How to Make College Affordable

Hocking College offers a transfer program that allows students to complete the first two years of college coursework with the Ohio Transfer Module. After two years, you can transfer your credits to a four-year college to complete your bachelor’s degree, secure in the knowledge that you’ve saved thousands of dollars in the process.

Other ways to Make College Affordable

Though choosing a local two-year college is the single best way to cut your overall educational costs, you can also try one or more of these options as well:

  • Apply for Scholarships and Grants: The better your GPA, the better your odds of qualifying for merit-based scholarships. There are scholarships aimed at all kinds of skills and interests, and not all of them require you to be at the top of your class. Apply for anything you even remotely qualify for, and you could amass some significant tuition help.
  • Consider Your Living Expenses: Living with your parents and commuting is one way to cut back on the cost of college, since you won’t have worry about room and board. If your dream school is too far away, living on campus is usually cheaper than renting an off-campus apartment and supplying your own meals.
  • Leave Your Car at Home: If you do choose to live on campus, living without a car would help cut your expenses. You won’t have to worry about parking fees, gas or insurance, and these things really add up.
  • Apply for a Work-Study Job: Most colleges offer a work-study program that provides you a part-time job on campus to help defray the costs of tuition. Resident advisors might get a discount on housing, while cafeteria workers could eat for free. Find out what’s available to see if a campus job is right for you.

If you’re uncertain about how you’ll pay for college, it’s also a good idea to speak to the Financial Aid department to get additional advice and ideas about how to make your education more affordable. It’s definitely worth the effort to get the most out of your educational dollar so you can start life on the best possible financial footing.

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