It’s never been more expensive to get a college education. According to an annual survey conducted by U.S. News & World Report, tuition and fees at in-state public colleges has reached $9,716 for the 2018-2019 school year. If you prefer a private college, you’re facing $35,676 for the same school year.
But you don’t have to be Warren Buffet to pay for college. If you have plenty of time left, you can set up a 529 savings plan, but there are still options available even if it’s just around the corner. Here are a few ways you can offset the high cost of a college education.
Apply for grants and scholarships
You probably already know that there’s plenty of free money available, but you’re responsible for tracking it down and applying. One great place to start is through FAFSA, which connects you with federal grants, loans, and scholarships. Pay close attention to the FAFSA deadlines, which vary from one state to the next. In Texas, for instance, you’ll want to submit your application by Jan. 15, 2019 for the 2019-20 school year, since priority is given to those who apply by that date.
Check for local options
When you apply on a federal level, you’re competing with students across the country. You can narrow the field by searching and applying for local scholarships and grants. These opportunities are open only to those who live in the area, and only so many apply each year. You’ll find that the field narrows even more with the many loans and grants that are specific to certain membership organizations, neighborhoods, and fields of study.
Look for college-specific aid
If you’ve already chosen a college, go to the main page of the site and look for an admissions section. From there, you should be able to navigate to a financial aid page. You’ll likely be directed to apply through FAFSA for grants, but you can also learn about Pell Grants and scholarships specific to the area of study you plan to pursue.
Apply for work-study jobs
Whether you’re searching federal or college-specific opportunities, you’ll likely see work-study among the offerings. With work-study, you’ll line up part-time work that will help lower the cost of your college tuition. Once you’ve applied and been accepted, you will be able to browse opportunities for work-study jobs with on-campus and off-campus employers.
Test out of classes
The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) lets you earn college credit by passing tests. Although this won’t save you on tuition in the short term, in the long run you’ll save by reducing the number of classes you’ll need to take during the time you’re in school. Look for your university of choice on the CLEP site and read up on the instructions on testing out of certain classes.
Although it takes a little work, you can save significant money by checking on the many cost savings opportunities available to you. Many opportunities are only good for a semester or school year, so be prepared to reapply and search for new opportunities on a yearly basis.