5 Ways to Reduce the Cost of College

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Getting a grip on college costs.

It would be silly for me to even suggest the obvious: college costs are spiraling out of control. That sort of statement has been uttered continuously for more than two decades, but with little offered of substance by anyone in the way of containing costs or reducing college expenses.

No doubt the five suggestions I am sharing with you here will be old news for some, but I like to think that a contemporary perspective will help parents and their college-bound offspring to consider every option available to them while also serving notice to colleges and universities that they absolutely must contain costs.

Two-year colleges — For financially challenged families, allowing their student to being college life at a community, technical or junior college just may be the best course of action to take, provided that those credits earned can be transferred to a four-year college to obtain a bachelor’s degree. Costs are much lower and students can get all of their prerequisites out of the way before matriculating. A Cornell University study, however, suggests that the differences between community and four-year colleges is much narrower than what some say it is.

Three-year plans — I only recommend completing education in three-years for top students and for those who can handle an increased work load. Not many can and not many should. However, if you can make out your credits each semester and attend school over the summer, you should be able to graduate ahead of schedule with money saved in the process.

Generous grants — Pell grant money can be helpful, but does it go far enough? The maximum amount that can be awarded for the 2010-11 academic year is $5,550 which means students attending pricey universities had better hope that a significant chunk of the remaining costs are waived. Here’s an idea: for every dollar of Pell grant money awarded, schools should take two dollars out of their endowment funds to help defray college costs.

Loan Forgiveness — Why not step up loan forgiveness for students who want to give back to their community or serve their country? There already are programs in place for teachers, but extending this program to other fields seems wise. One example would be to help physicians set up practices in underserved areas. Provide “sliding” forgiveness, perhaps one-eighth of their loan forgiven for each year of higher education study.

Muzzle It — At some point high-priced universities need to come to the realization that many students simply cannot afford to attend their institutions. Yesterday, on these pages, we mentioned the increasing number of low-income students who aren’t bothering to attend college and for one reason: it is too costly. Moderate income families are being hurt too which means that your pricey colleges will eventually lose diversity and miss an opportunity to make a huge difference in the lives of young people.

Adv. — Looking for a student loan to help plug the financial gap? The Sallie Mae Smart Option Student Loan may be what you want — explore more!

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