One of the biggest barriers to entry for college today remains the issue of tuition costs. According to USNews, the true costs of obtaining a college degree sits at over $10,000 a year for public two-year universities. The costs of private, four-year colleges shoots to upwards of $35,000 annually. Given the skyrocketing costs, preparing for all of the fees associated with a college association is important for any student looking to complete a degree program in today’s economy. Our resource can help you prepare for a cost-effective college experience by finding pre-college programs financial aid options.
Preparation is Key
Being bogged down by serious cases of the senioritis epidemic, many students tend to procrastinate on their college planning processes. With tuition costs going through the roof, however, one of the best ways to lower the future costs of tuition will be to adequately plan for your future. Here are several ways you can start planning for a college degree today:
- AP Courses – Many high schools today offer AP courses in lieu of traditional classes, which also count towards graduation. After completing AP courses, students can take an exam administered by the College Board in over 30 topics. Depending on your score and the college you end up at, you can save thousands of dollars on credits many students take to bypass general requirements. Studies have also shown that students who take AP courses are more likely to succeed in college classes.
- Apply Early – Although the saying has become a cliche, the early bird does indeed get the worm. Meeting the early application deadline from many programs ensures a speedy response, reducing the amount of anxiety you face when waiting for the coveted envelope from your dream college. More importantly, a timely response allows you to keep more options open than applying to colleges last-minute. This gives you the benefit of choosing a program that best suits your financial needs and gives you time to hear back from scholarships which you have applied to. USNews provides an insightful resource containing early decision deadlines from prominent universities across the nation.
Financial aid through scholarships and tuition reductions are one of the biggest ways students can reduce the cost of their education. You’ll find several sources below to help you get started on your search for financial aid.
- Tuition Breaks – A great way to reduce the costs of your tuition is to find opportunities for tuition breaks. Reciprocity programs between states is a great way for students to move away from home to a prominent university while retaining the benefits of a reasonable tuition. The four most prominent organizations which provide such programs include:
- New England Board of Higher Education
- Southern Regional Education Board
- Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education
- Midwestern Higher Education Compact
- Pell Grants – Pell grants are one of the biggest forms of financial aid available to college students today. In order to qualify for a Pell grant, students must complete the FAFSA form, which is used to indicate your financial needs compared to other students. Given cross-the-board budget cuts to government institutions, the Pell grant’s funds remained liquid for the 2011-2012 school year, allowing students to qualify the maximum amount of $5,500.
To reiterate, applying early and planning ahead are the best ways for you to prepare for the costs of a college tuition. One final tip for obtaining a cost-effective college degree is to consider non-traditional degree programs. For example, two-year associate’s degree programs, certificate programs, and online programs are all becoming worthwhile alternatives to the four-year degree. Many graduates from these programs without the debt that students from prominent programs pile on, allowing them to pursue their true interests.