Cutting down on college costs
Now it’s more expensive than ever – here are a few ways to save.
In recent years, the price of college and university tuition has shot up tenfold. Whether at a state school in New York or in one of Massachusetts’s many elite, private institutions, pockets are certain to be emptied when paying for higher degrees of education. Poor, middle class, and even wealthier American families struggle, especially when it comes to sending multiple children off to schools. Such circumstances greatly affect the lives of young students, as the inability to attend their first choice school due to costs can severely put a dent in future career plans when it comes to networking, being employed, and living on their own. Tuition is simply too high. While quality education is everywhere and worthwhile, institutions will have to learn that, sooner or later, their charge rates for attendance will end up backfiring on potential students who qualify to attend but are unable to afford attendance. Government intervention helps to some extent, but the best ways to truly offset college costs come through earning degrees in less time, attending schools with fixed price tuition, and even studying at universities overseas.
Even with government intervention in mind, student debt can still overshadow the life of an individual, even after earning their degree. While grants do not have to be paid off, the dreaded student loan can cause great angst. To a certain point, loans help, as a reasonable amount of money borrowed for a degree can be paid off within a decade if the degree helps the student offset costs and better themselves for later. However, loans need to be reformed (Dynaraski: “What We Mean When We Say Student Debt is Bad” – NY Times), whether that means lowering the cost of tuition or changing loan plans to fit more specific family needs. Loans that take ten, twenty, and even thirty years to pay off may not be worth it for students in the long run. They can bring enormous benefit to a student’s life (that is, paying for your college education). However, if a loan is not any better (potentially worse, too) than the debt it brings to a potential student, then it may be worth it to consider other options. For now, until a policymaker enacts change, student loans are what the students and their parents make of it. The sooner one can pay them off, the better that person will be.
Earning a degree in a shorter amount of time is an excellent way to lower college costs, especially when it comes to the all powerful, three-year degree. Three year colleges are almost omnipresent in Europe (Weinstein Jr., Marshall: “Why We Need the 3-Year College Degree” – CNN). In America, completing a college degree in three years would cut tuition fees by an average of 25 percent, according to a CNN study. This allows students with their new diplomas to continue living their ever changing lives as they search for a job, a partner, and a place to live. Such a cut in cost also grants students the opportunity to pursue even higher educational degrees through certificate programs and graduate school. Additionally, completion rates shoot up when more students attend a three year program because there is greater incentive to complete a degree in less time and at a cheaper cost. Three year programs, due to their intensity, are highly recognized by employers (Weinstein Jr., Marshall: “Why We Need the 3-Year College Degree” – CNN), and a student willing to cover four-year course material in just six semesters can gain great attention for their efforts. Clearly, combining reasonable student loans with a plan like a three year degree can drastically turn the tables for the better when paying for school.
Additionally, students may consider attending school on a fixed tuition plan, where, at certain colleges and universities, tuition rate will not rise each year a student returns after break. Private colleges are especially known for this option, as they are not under the jurisdiction of a state government to follow with cost rates (Vise: “Fixed-rate Tuition Can Minimize College-price Angst” – The Washington Post). While institutions try to make their price as clear as can be, it is never as cut and dry as indicated on websites and info graphics. It all varies by averages, and those averages change for different types of people. If tuition costs of a university increase by $2000 every year, and the base tuition is $30,000, a student will have paid $132,000 in just tuition costs by graduation (this does not include room and board, books, meal plans, and so on). With a fixed tuition plan, a student attending said university would now only pay $124,000 on tuition. That saved $8000 can go towards meals, rentals, a new car, and even other components of college life, like off-campus housing. Schools from all over the country, whether George Washington University, St. John’s University, or Mount Holyoke College, have fixed and even frozen tuition plans. The concept is quite smart, and such schools should be considered when looking to save money on college.
Lastly, students have the option of education at schools in another country. This option, also known as studying abroad, is a great path when it comes to saving money on education. Foreign countries love American students in the admission process, and studying in such places is cheap. Norway is one example of country that simply does not charge for tuition. American universities also provide study abroad programs. Eastern Michigan University, for example, allows students the option to study abroad in ten different countries while attending school; in-state tuition (just $3600) is paid and extra costs do not exceed more than $13,000 (Snider: “Consider Study Abroad to Save Money on Colleges” – U.S. News and World Report). Scholarships, such as the Benjamin A. Gilman Int’l Scholarship, grant students the opportunity to study various languages around the world, providing education to students and saving them money in another country at reasonable prices. Given this, there are many benefits to reap should a college student choose to head overseas.
College is expensive, plain and simple. Federal aid is definitely an alternative, but these other options should very much be taken into consideration to minimize as much cost as humanly possible. With this in mind, a college education will always be a good investment, as a potential employee becomes significantly more competitive after earning their degree from an accredited school, both at home and abroad. Do not worry, students: You are not alone in paying off the conglomerate that funds your diploma.