Welcome to our newest blog feature: College Corner by UWM Financial Advisor Derenda King, Ed.D, CFP®, CDFA®. Paying for college can definitely be a scary experience. Families often overpay, take on too much debt, and/or hurt their savings and retirement plans because they’re unprepared for the rising costs of a college education. UWM's newest service offering, College Planning and Funding, guides families through the college aid maze because—let’s face it—there’s a lot to know! We help you become informed buyers of a college education by sharing ways to cut costs and by answering the all-important question, "Will my student qualify for financial aid?"
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Keys to Cutting College Costs
If your student wants to pursue a degree, there are ways to reduce educational expenses. Make sure you do your research early and thoroughly. Get help so that your student can graduate with as little debt as possible—or no debt at all.
1. Consider dual enrollment.
Check with your guidance counselor to see if your student can enroll in college courses while still in high school. The more credits the student can earn prior to graduation, the fewer they will have to pay for when they go to college.
2. Start off at a community college.
You may want to consider starting your student off at an affordable two‑year college to complete general education classes (or earn an Associate’s degree), and then have them transfer to a 4-year university where they can take classes more targeted to their specific degree.
3. Use a regional student-exchange program.
Many states have “regional student reciprocity” agreements that allow students to attend colleges and universities in a neighboring state for less than the published tuition prices for non-residents. These tuition breaks are offered primarily at public schools, but some private institutions offer them as well.
4. Research residency requirements.
An excellent way to lower the price of a state university is to become a resident of the state and qualify for the lower in-state tuition. Some states make it virtually impossible, while it’s relatively easy in other states.
5. Take summer courses.
Students can earn an additional 6 to 12 credits annually by attending summer school. Many colleges lower their summer school tuition rates, which makes this option a win-win when it comes to reducing total educational expenses.
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