Avoid thousands of dollars of debt with these simple solutions
We expect college to be expensive, but there are simple ways to cut tens of thousands of dollars off the cost, without wasting time or sacrificing the value of your education. Depending on your circumstances, these savings can be large enough to make the difference between graduating debt-free, and being stuck paying down student loans when you’re 35.
Consider a transfer with an associate’s degree
Most schools waive the general-education requirements for transfer students with an associate’s degree. That means, instead of paying full price for your first two years of school, you can get an associate’s degree at an inexpensive two-year college, and transfer to start your major coursework at the school from which you want your degree.
The savings here depend on how expensive your dream school is, and how low tuition is at your feeder school; but since the average four-year public university costs about $16,000 per academic year, and a typical two-year school is closer to $3,000 a year, you’re looking at saving around $29,000 by finishing your generals at a two-year college. If you want to attend a prestigious private university, the savings are even higher, and no employer will ever look at a degree from Harvard or Princeton and say, “Ah, but it says here you’re a transfer student; sorry, no can do.”
Put your textbooks on an e-reader or tablet
Every college student hates going to their campus bookstore for textbooks. They’re wildly overpriced, rarely useful, and nigh-impossible to sell back. The average student forks over $1,200 in textbooks every academic year (more, if you take summer classes). E-book versions of the same textbooks routinely sell for half price or less.
Tablets have a reputation for being pricey, but there are Android e-readers and tablet PCs available for as low as $199. You’ll likely save more than that on textbooks your first semester, so it’s a no-brainer.
Fill out your FAFSA
The Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) is absolutely essential for college students who are paying their own way through school. If you’re on your own, working a part-time job for lousy pay like most college students, you probably qualify for the full Pell Grant ($5,500 per academic year) as well as over $10,000 in federally-subsidized, low-interest loans that don’t accrue interest until you graduate.
Patricia Shuler is a BBGeeks.com staff writer from Oakland, California. She’s an admitted tech-junkie who’s quick to share her honest opinion on all things consumer electronic—including up-to-date news, user reviews, and “no holds barred” opinions on a variety of social media, tech, computer, and mobile accessories topics.