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Tips on How to Lower College Costs

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managing-college-costsSome students may not realize how many items actually factor into the cost of attending college. The cost of college includes a variety of items outside of tuition and room and board.  The majority of schools include the same items within their college costs, however the amounts vary. A few common college costs include: tuition and fees, room and board, books and school supplies, personal expenses, transportation and miscellaneous expenses. It is important to get exact amounts from your school on these costs. Adding up all the expenses needed to attend school can be a little intimidating, however there are a few things you can do to reduce some of these costs.

Here are a few tips on how to lower the costs of college:

  • Set a budget to help manage your college costs and other living expenses.
  • Attend a college with lower overall tuition and fees. The less your overall tuition and fees for college, the less you have to spend.
  • You may also be able to get school credit based on your knowledge and experience you have relating to a course. For example at American Public University we offer a Prior Learning Assessment program. The Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) program offers APUS students a way to document non-traditional learning with the submission of a portfolio.
  • Apply for grants and scholarships. These are gifted aid that does not have to be paid back. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), at, to be considered for financial aid from the federal government, state governments and many colleges.
  • Colleges may also offer discounts on tuition and/ or fees. You may contact the school to find out if there are any discounts offered to students and if you qualify.
  •  If you are able to work while attending school, this may also assist with your college costs.
  • Buying a computer, printer, paper, ink, and many other computer supplies can become expensive. At a library you can have access to computers, printers, and books. Getting a membership at your local library may be more beneficial and cost efficient; as some libraries have free memberships and some have a small yearly fee.
  • You may also be able to lower the costs of your textbooks by buying used textbooks or renting them.

You may be eligible for important new health care benefits through the Affordable Care Act. Examples of these benefits include the following:

  • Most young adults can stay on their parents’ family plan until they turn 26, even if they are married or still living with their parents.
  • If you have been uninsured because of a pre-existing condition, you may be eligible to join the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan.
  • If you are in a new insurance plan, insurance companies cannot charge you a deductible or copays for recommended or preventive services such as flu shots or other immunizations.

All of these small tips are examples of what you can do to help reduce your college costs. You can find information about whether the cost of a college is low, medium, or high by using the College Scorecard. Do not allow the cost of more expensive schools deter you from attending, especially if it is a school you really want to attend, as financial aid is also there to assist with your college expenses.

Some information used from the following websites:

By Shalena Gonzales
Financial Aid Specialist, American Public University

Edge relies on the valuable input of many different authors and contributors. Sometimes the final article is a result of a collaboration between various individuals. Rather than credit an individual writer, the "Edge Staff" account was created to distribute credit to all the people who contributed to the article's success.

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