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Saving U: Go to College Without Going Broke

Education fund

The chance to get quality education in any field is a dream for most, but rising costs are making such a dreams less and less attainable.

Luckily, prospective college students aren’t alone in their quests to find affordable college experiences.

Scholarships, community colleges and even high school classes can help make college less expensive.

Don’t give up on your dreams if you can’t afford college. These cost-cutting programs will help you get the education you’ve always wanted without breaking the bank.

AP Courses

High school students can earn college credit before stepping foot on a university campus. College Board Advance Placement (AP) courses combine high school classes with college material, culminating with a test that can transfer into college credit. From biology to history to foreign languages, students can knock out lower level college courses while completing high school. AP tests cost $89 and can be administered by qualified high school teachers. Students can check College Board AP scores online or receive results by mail, and College Board will send scores of 3 or above (1-5 scale) to students’ desired destinations.

Scholarships

Colleges generally seek a diverse student body to provide a well-rounded experience, and they are willing to pay students with eclectic backgrounds to attend their schools. Finaid.org lists award programs for minority students from Bill Gates, The Consortium, The Hearst Foundation and The Graduate Education for Minorities center, along with databases that list even more opportunities. Couple those with merit-based scholarships based on grades, test scores and contests, and international students have plenty of opportunities to get a lift.

Apply for more scholarships than you need, highlight your background and achievements when applying and get the application in on time.

Loans

There’s only so much free money to go around, but students with big dreams and small budgets aren’t sentenced to a life without education. Student loans can cover college expenses until graduation, upon which lenders will require steady payments with some interest. International students that have citizenship can apply for federal aid at Fafsa.ed.gov. After filling out a FAFSA form, students receive grant and loan offers through the U.S. government. Non-citizens can visit Salliemae.com for private student loan options.

Students loans offer short-term convenience, but failure to repay these loans has long-term consequences. According to Projectstudentdebt.org, 2011 graduates who took out student loans had an average of $26,600 in debt. If these students find employment, they will be able to pay their debt down, but a still-shaky economy has left some students with high payments and no income. Loans aren’t the best way to pay for college, but when used responsibly, they can open paths to success.

Community College

Students that want a college degree but don’t want the piles of debt that go with it can get started at community colleges. According to Usnews.com, tuition at a community college costs less than $3,000 per year on average. In-state tuition at four year college cost around $8,000 on average. Students often opt for a two-year degree at a community college before transferring to a university to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

 

This is a guest post from Sharon Decker. She’s a bank manager by day and financial writer by night. Sharon loves sharing her tips on money management and investing.

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