College tuition is getting outrageous!
In the last 30+ years, the cost of higher education has skyrocketed to levels that are putting a serious strain on those attempting to better their lives.
In the 1980’s, it was the norm to pay less than $10,000 for a year of private education.
Flash-forward to today, for the 2017 – 2018 school year, the average cost of tuition and fees was $34,740 for private colleges, $9,970 for in-state public schools, and $25,620 for out-of-state public schools.
And that only includes the cost of tuition and fees. If you include all of the additional costs like room and board, etc. it now costs the average student attending a private university over $50,000 each year!
This phenomenon isn’t affecting only the youth coming out of college, it is reshaping American society as a whole, and altering our way of life.
Certain milestones that were once seen as “rites of passage” for those coming out of college are being pushed off for later in life, and sometimes not happening at all.
Individuals in their 20’s are having to delay purchasing a home, they are getting married later in life, and the idea of having children is such a financially burdensome notion (to add on top of their loans), that some are considering not having kids at all.
And those same studies show that car purchases and retirement savings rates are dropping for the same reasons.
These developments pose a real risk to the US economy, not to mention the lifestyle of the individuals being affected.
If you look around online, you’ll find a ton of resources dedicated to helping people pay off their student debt. But the best way to counteract what is happening is to never let it happen in the first place.
By taking proactive measures BEFORE you take out student debt, you can end up saving very large sums of money. This can be in the form of the amount of actual loans you have to take out, as well as the interest payments made on those loans in the decades after graduation.
So, here are 6 ways you can help cut the cost of college education for you or your children, and subsequently alter the life of anyone willing to take the steps to do it.
1 – GO TO IN-STATE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Yes, I know, your kid got into that top-100 ranked school and now has tunnel-vision on attending it in the Fall.
But is it worth the cost?
The average difference in cost between a private school and an in-state public school is around $25,000 per year per year. If you factor in additional costs like room and board, the difference can be even greater.
To give an example, in a recent US News rankings you will find Ohio State University and University of Georgia tied for #54 on their list of Best Colleges.
Both schools have great brand names, offer high-quality educations, and provide a lot of school pride in the form of strong athletics programs.
But the difference in attending either school as either an in-state or out-of-state enrollee could mean the difference of over $80,000.
Both schools have an in-state cost of tuition and fees of slightly over $10,000. And both have out-of-state costs of around $30,000.
If you live in Ohio, and had to choose between the two, does it really make sense to go to University of Georgia knowing you’ll have to pay an additional $80,000 over 4 years?
It certainly isn’t going to guarantee a better life for your kid.
2 – GET FREE MONEY
It is amazing how much scholarship money goes unclaimed each year. Mainly because people simply didn’t put in the time and effort to apply for them.
In 2013, there was over $2.9 Billion in federal aid money that went unclaimed simply because students didn’t fill out the FAFSA form. And this doesn’t include all of the private scholarships available.
What’s important to remember is that your kid doesn’t need to have a 4.0 GPA or be the star varsity athlete in order to receive scholarship money. There is a lot of money available for the “average” student.
3 – BEFRIEND THE GATEKEEPERS
This is a secret weapon most people don’t use, so take note!
One of the tactics I used when I was in college was becoming friends with my financial aid counselor. Not just introducing yourself, but befriending them!
These lovely people are there to help you pay for your education the best they can. The problem is, they have limited resources and can’t help every student equally. So, sometimes it’s simply the student that shows up that gets their help.
It might not seem fair, but it’s true.
During my time at Northeastern University, I would regularly stop by and chat with my financial aid counselor. She was a lovely woman who truly cared about helping her students.
Over time we built up a great relationship. When there were new scholarships available, or one that no one had taken the time to apply for, she always sent me a message letting me know I might qualify for it.
Some of the applications were as simple as filling out a one-page form.
Believe me when I tell you that I received THOUSANDS of extra dollars that I never would have known about if it wasn’t for my strong relationship with my financial aid counselor.
Don’t brush past these people, they could be an added source of money most people aren’t leveraging.
4 – LOCATION MATTERS
Another factor people don’t consider when they budget for college is the cost of living in the area where the college is located.
The cost of living to attend school in NYC is going to be much more expensive than if you are in a small-town. Or most anywhere else, for that matter… NYC is EXPENSIVE!
Going out for food or drinks with friends can be a completely different experience (financially), depending on where you live.
So, as you’re debating between a handful of schools, you should factor this into the equation.
5 – TEXTBOOKS & SUPPLIES
This is short and simple. Buying a used text book is cheaper than a brand new one.
Also, a lot of universities will carry copies of the course textbook in the library for your use.
Don’t be enamored with the thought of a freshly printed textbook, when in reality you are likely to never use it again after your 3-month course.
The same goes for any supplies you’ll need. Try to cut costs if you can.
6 – HOUSING
Colleges are building newer and better dorms every year. It even seems like some universities are turning into luxury residences that happen to offer college courses.
If you have the choice, don’t think you have to live in the high-priced university housing options. Get a place off-campus with some friends and save some money.
EVERY CHOICE MATTERS
As you or a loved-one is gearing up for 4 years of higher-learning, be sure not to get lost in the fog of top-ranked dorms, recreation centers, or a number of other selling points.
You need to focus long and hard on the cost of the education and how that is going to affect the rest of your life.
Be sure to work hard, get all of the money you can to help pay the cost, and choose wisely with each decision.