Mississippi Money: Reducing the Cost of College
Recently I got a chance to talk about reducing the cost of college on MPB radio (Catch me there once a month, the show is Money Talks – 9-10 AM every Tuesday!). This is a different path than most financial advisors (including myself) usually take clients. It is easy for advisors to develop a saving plan for a newborn’s expected college expenses. It is necessary for an advisor to help clients grapple with student loan debt. It is more ambiguous and more complex, yet vastly more valuable, to reduce the upfront cost of college.
We all know that the headline price of college is often more than our young scholars end up paying. The cost of a college education is expensive. Here are some of the most effective ways to reduce the price of a quality education:
1. Many students have their hearts set on one school from an early age. If you can flip the script, your scholar can get a better offer. Instead of looking for a school that your scholar wants, find a school that wants them. An experienced college admissions counselor or data from www.collegedata.com or http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/ may help them find a school that is willing to offer more for a student with your scholar’s particular skills and interests.
2. A classic way of reducing the cost of college is knocking out core classes cheaply at a local community college. Mississippi has excellent community colleges with locations convenient to you. Make sure that the credits your scholar is taking will transfer to the school of their choice afterwards. This is an especially good option for those going to an in-state public university. Not only do you save on tuition but their cost of living may only be the commute from home!
3. Think twice about working through college. Classes can be demanding enough on their own without also trying to shoulder a job and social life. If a full work schedule means that your scholar doesn’t graduate on time, it may have been a costly mistake. Instead, work smarter with work-study that allows paid course related work or a co-op semester or year that gives experience and a paycheck (these are common in engineering and hard science courses).
A teacher called into the show to remind us that everything from 9th grade on counts towards college. If your child wasn’t the best middle school student, starting in 9th grade, they have a chance to show the growth and maturity that their future college needs to see.
College is expensive but is an excellent investment. As with any investment, the return depends on the price you pay in the beginning. Lowering the cost of college on the front end can pay off big.
By Ryder Taff