Are the rising costs of college tuition concerning you and your teens? Do you think piles of college debt are inevitable? Keep reading for a bunch of clever ways you might be able to shave thousands off your tuition bills!

Whenever I talk about Jesse going to law school debt-free, I find that people can’t fathom how this could be possible.

There’s a real belief out there that most college graduates will end up with lots of student loans — that this debt is “unavoidable.”

I wholeheartedly disagree!

10+ Ideas for Saving on College Tuition

With a little bit of effort, a little bit of research, and a can-do attitude, I’m confident you or your student can get a college degree with little to no debt at all.

Don’t believe me?

Here are just a few ideas to get you thinking…

1. Attend an in-state school.

In most U.S. states, it is significantly less expensive to attend an in-state school versus an out-of-state school or private school.

There are also a variety of “state scholarships” you can qualify for if you attend a state school in your own state (with a certain GPA + SAT/ACT scores).

Tennessee has both TN Promise and TH Hope scholarships for these students — adding up to a few thousand dollars per semester! Other states have similar programs: Florida has Bright Futures, Georgia has the Hope Scholarship, etc.

2. Choose a less expensive college for gen ed credits.

Community colleges are a great way to get lots of general education credits out of the way before transferring to a 4-year college or university, and their cost per credit is much less expensive!

Just do your research to make sure the credits will transfer.

3. Live off campus.

While you might miss out on some of the campus life activities, you’ll also “miss out” on a huge amount of debt!

Dorms are often very pricey, and our girls are each saving $10,000 – $12,000 per year by living off campus!!

4. Live on campus.

Yes, there are two sides to every coin! ☺

If you can find a scholarship that applies to room and board, there are lots of ways to save by living on campus.

For example, you don’t need to drive to and from the school each day, saving gas (and time). And — if your scholarship could be applied toward the meal plan — that would save you money on food as you wouldn’t need to buy many groceries.

5. Apply for every scholarship you can find.

There are SO many scholarships available these days — you just need to hunt for them.

One follower mentioned her daughter applied for several $500 scholarships. She got them since she was the only one who applied — and they all added up to big savings!

Yes, it takes some work, but it could pay off big-time (literally!).

6. Look for specific scholarships from your school.

Once you decide what school you will attend, find all the scholarships available and start applying.

You can often “stack” various scholarships (just like coupons!) for an even deeper discount.

Some followers mentioned that their kids got more scholarships than the cost of tuition and were able to use the overages to pay for room and board, meal plans, and even books!

7. Take AP or Dual Enrollment classes in high school.

Many high schools offer Advanced Placement (A.P.) and Dual Enrollment classes that count for college credit while the students are still in high school.

It’s not uncommon for high school seniors to graduate with 20 or more college credits that will then transfer to their college and provide an opportunity to graduate a semester or more early (saving TONS on tuition).

8. Know what your income qualifies for.

You might be surprised by what is considered “low income”, especially if you have multiple kids around college age at the same time. Be sure to fill out your FAFSA form, even if you don’t think you’ll qualify for financial aid.

Do a little research to figure out if you qualify for state funding or grants that could be applied to college tuition. These do not need to be paid back and are essentially the same as a scholarship.

9. Encourage teens to start saving.

Help your teens find part-time jobs during the school year (and especially during summer months) to save up money for college tuition.

It’s not unreasonable to challenge your high school and college students to save $5,000 – $10,000 per year to put towards tuition.

In most cases, they can still work part-time while keeping up with their school work and participating in extracurricular activities.

10. Find a job with tuition reimbursement.

And speaking of teens finding part-time work, more and more companies are reimbursing college students for each credit they get while working for the company.

This is a great option for people working in a specific field who go back to get a Master’s or Doctorate, but there are also many entry-level jobs that will pay for a bachelor’s or associate’s degree.

Places like Chick-fil-A, Chipotle, Walmart, Costco, Starbucks, Papa John’s, and Amazon offer reimbursement programs for full- and part-time employees.

11. Become an R.A. (Resident Assistant).

Most colleges and universities offer free (or very reduced) room and board to students who would like to serve as an R.A. for their dorm floor.

This could shave off a huge portion of their overall tuition bill, teach valuable leadership skills, and provide ample opportunities for getting involved with campus life and other fun activities around campus.

12. Work for the college.

Many colleges offer on-campus jobs for students — both during the year and over the summer.

One follower said that her child went to College of the Ozarks and got FREE tuition for working 15 hours per week (plus two 40-hour weeks) during the year!! They also have the option to work during the summer to pay for room and board.

Another follower mentioned that her husband got his Master’s degree completely free by first getting a job at the university he wanted to attend. The university offered free tuition that covered everything but books!

What else would you add to this list?

As you can see, there are so many ways to significantly reduce the rising cost of college tuition — you just have to get creative and be willing to do the research/work.

Remind yourself how thankful your “future self” will be without the burden of deep college debt. That should be motivation enough to keep pushing forward when you’re tired of all those scholarship applications!

We’d love to continue this conversation in the comments…

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