Guess who’s back with some killer tips on how to make college more affordable for your little munchkins? That’s right—it’s yours truly, armed with eight fantastic strategies to save those hard-earned dollars and cut college costs.
#1 – CALCULATE FUTURE COSTS
First things first, let’s set a goal. Calculate those future college costs using the handy resource I’ve found for you. Whether your child is a tot or a teenager, having a specific savings target in mind is crucial. Trust me, this link is an absolute gem—it’s user-friendly and gives you the minimum amount you should aim to save for your kid’s education. Check it out!
#2 – START EARLY
Don’t procrastinate, my friends. Start saving for college as early as humanly possible. Heck, I created a college fund for my little bundle of joy the moment I found out I was pregnant. By the time she arrived, she already had a cool $2,000 tucked away. Since then, her father and I have been consistently making deposits, and I’m thrilled to say that she’s well on her way to financing her undergraduate education.
#3 – TAKE AP COURSES
Now, when the time comes for your kiddo to enter high school, nudge them toward a school that offers Advanced Placement (AP) courses. These beauties are taken in the 11th and 12th grades, and if your child aces the final exams, they can earn college credits. That’s right, up to 30 AP credits, which equals a whole year that you have cut college costs. That’s like giving a big ol’ finger to those skyrocketing tuition fees!
#4 – STAY LOCAL
Unless there’s a specific reason for your child to attend an out-of-state school (like a unique program or experience), seriously question the need to venture far from home. I mean, really, what’s the point?
Take my situation, for example—I live in New York City. Sure, I’d love for my daughter to attend a historically black university (HBCU), but we don’t have those around here. She’d have to head to Delaware, Washington, D.C., or some other city, and that would mean shelling out big bucks for out-of-state tuition plus the cost of housing. As much as I desire that experience for her, it doesn’t outweigh my priority of seeing her graduate college debt-free. So, we’re nudging her towards a local CUNY (City University of New York) school. She’s finishing her sophomore year of high school and has zero desire to leave her dear old dad’s side. When she caught a glimpse of my student loan bill, she nearly passed out. Here’s to hoping she stays that way!
#5 – LIVE AT HOME
When college rolls around, if possible, let your child live at home. I know, I know—they’ll want to spread their wings, live on campus, and experience newfound freedom away from the watchful eyes of their parents. But let me tell you, that independence they seek comes at a hefty price tag. On- and off-campus housing is ridiculously expensive, so if you can get along with your fiercely independent teen, have them stay at home and save that dough.
#6 – TRY COMMUNITY COLLEGE
If your child has their heart set on a particular school and hasn’t changed their mind by the end of their junior year of high school, consider a drastic move—relocate to that state. I know, it’s a big step, but out-of-state tuition can add an extra $20K per year to that college bill. Here’s another nifty tip: have your child attend a community college for the first two years. In NYC, completing the first two years at a community college saves a sweet $4,000. Students can earn their associate’s degree in two years, which can help them land a job while they finish up the remaining two years of college if they choose to do so.
#7 – WORK
Encourage your child to work part-time. If they’re living at home, they might not need to work at all, but if they opt for the community college route, working part-time (around 15 to 20 hours per week) can provide valuable experience in their chosen field. Just imagine—a college degree and two years of experience, all while being blissfully debt-free!
#8 – APPLY FOR GRANTS AND SCHOLARSHIPS
Make it rain with grants and scholarships! Encourage your child to apply for as many as possible. Look into opportunities offered by companies for their employee’s children. Explore local, state, and federal programs that might provide financial assistance based on various criteria. Sometimes, you’ll need to enter a contest or write an essay. Go all out and try every possible avenue to secure money from external sources.
If you’d like to see this blog in video form, check it out on my YouTube channel here.
And there you have it—my top-notch tips to cut college costs. Most of them are achievable, while some may require a little extra effort. But if you combine all these strategies, your child will emerge from college without any debt, ready to start their professional life stress-free. Now that’s how we create generational wealth, my friends.