19 Tips on How Your Students Can Pay Less for College

Forbes put together a nice article with tips on how students can pay less for College. Here is the summary of the tips and a link at the end to the article:

  1. Focus on Free Money First: There are a lot of grants, scholarships and tuition wavers available that cost nothing.
  2. Apply for Financial Aid: Everyone should fill out the FAFSA even it they don’t think they will get any money. They may be surprised at what they do get.
  3. Military funding: ROTC and other programs can pay for a larger portion of College.
  4. Work Study or Part-Time Job: Working while in College can cover funds that don’t have to be borrowed and paid back over time.
  5. Appeal for Financial Aid: Financial aid appeals are sometimes called negotiation, a professional judgment review or a special circumstances review. Many Colleges have funds held back to help students with special circumstances.
  6. 529 Plan: These tax advantaged plans can really help fund a lot of College costs (Note I paid for both of my children’s College with these types of funds).
  7. American Opportunity Tax Credit: The AOTC provides a partially-refundable tax credit worth up to $2,500 based on up to $4,000 in tuition and textbook expenses each year for up to four years. The AOTC is an above-the-line exclusion from income, which means you can claim it even if you don’t itemize.
  8. Lifetime Learning Tax Credit: The LLTC is a less generous tax credit for people who don’t qualify for the AOTC.
  9. Student Loan Interest Deduction: This can be claimed on the tax return and is an above-the-line exclusion from income for up to $2,500 in interest paid on federal and private student loans.
  10. Live off-campus: Living off-campus with a roommate or parents can substantially reduced housing costs.
  11. Buy used textbooks: This is an easy no-brainer cost savings but many students continue to buy new books from the on-campus college bookstore.
  12. Adopt an austere lifestyle: You are a college student so live like one.
  13. Ask for discounts: Many are available if you just ask.
  14. Track spending: This seems easy but many students don’t do it and as an example don’t realize they spend $150 a month at Starbucks.
  15. Tuition installment plans: These really help with budgeting but may not be great for that student that gets their student loan money upfront and has a tendency to spend that money on things they shouldn’t.
  16. Budget before borrowing: Aim to have total student loan debt at graduation that is less than your annual starting salary, and, ideally, a lot less.
  17. Borrow federal first: Federal student loans are less expensive and have better repayment options than private student loans. They are also easier to get.
  18. Crystalize a choice of academic major early: Students who change majors or transfer to another college are less likely to graduate on time, because some of their college credits may not count toward the new major or college and colleges offer less financial aid to transfer students. Take an interest or skills inventory test to help you identify the right academic major sooner.
  19. Plan a path from enrollment to completion: Students who plan which classes they will take when are more likely to graduate on time.

Here is a link to the Forbes blog with additional information on each of the tips: https://www.forbes.com/sites/markkantrowitz/2021/12/26/how-to-pay-less-for-college/?sh=627bcf107266