Cutting the Cost of College


There are many articles out there about the rising cost of college and how to save for it. There are also many articles about the rising student loan debt and its impact on both graduates and older Americans.

  • Americans owe over $1.3 trillion in student loan debt.[i]
  • The average 2016 graduate has $37,172 in student loan debt.[ii]
  • The number of older consumers aged 60 and older with student loan debt has quadrupled from 2005 to 2015, increasing from about 700,000 to 2.8 million consumers.[iii]
  • The number of borrowers age 65 and older who had their Social Security benefits offset to repay a federal student loan increased from about 8,700 to 40,000 borrowers from 2005 to 2015.[iv]

Obviously saving more money is one way of reducing the amount of debt you or your student will take on but let's face it, you're also saving for retirement and you may not have any extra funds you can apply to college savings. With my clients I discuss the various ways they can cut the cost of college. If you know how to reduce the cost of college it makes saving for it that much easier and could mean not having to take on any student loan debt. A win-win for both you and your child.

Taking Advanced Placement (AP)

Taking Advanced Placement (AP) Classes in High School in their Junior and Senior Year means your child could enter college as a sophomore saving you an entire year's tuition, room and board and fees.

Dual Enrollment

Dual Enrollment allows high school/home schooled students to earn college credits for courses taken through a community college while still being enrolled in high school. It allows the high school student to receive high school and college credit simultaneously and can also eliminate the duplication of courses in high school and college. This strategy is used to earn college credits and obtain a certificate or associates degree while still in high school. This could mean entering college as a sophomore or junior.

Community College

Go to Community College for the first two years and then transfer to another college or university to finish your degree. Many community colleges have admission agreements with other colleges and universities that guarantees admission if certain criteria is met. Tuition and fees at a Community College is a fraction of what it is at a State or Private school. At North Virginia Community College(NOVA), tuition, books and fees are $6,938 for residents. NOVA also has admission agreements with more than 40 colleges and Universities. This is also a great option for students who don't know what they want to major in.

Accelerated Programs

Accelerated Programs allow you to earn your BA in 3 years or a Masters in 5 years. This will save you one year's tuition, room and board, and fees.

State School

Choosing a State School over a Private School can save you tens of thousands of dollars. In the age of LinkedIn and other social media tools, where you obtain your degree doesn't matter as much as it did in the past.

Non-Needs Based Merit Scholarships

Non-Needs Based Merit Scholarships are not offered at all schools. In many cases the schools award merit scholarships based on financial need. US News & World Reports compiles a list of the schools with the highest percent of students who received non-need based merit scholarships. Most Students Receiving Merit Aid

Resident Assistant (RA)

Become a Resident Assistant (RA) it not only looks great on your resume but can give you a discount or even eliminate the cost of room and board.

Studying Abroad

Studying Abroad is more than a bucket list worthy experience. Depending on the school you attend, even with the cost of travel, a year abroad can be cheaper than attending your school when you factor in tuition, room and board and fees.


ROTC for those interested in serving in the Military, the Reserve Officer Training Corps is available at over 1,700 colleges and universities. Cadets receive a paid college education in exchange for a commitment to serve in the Military after graduation. ROTC Programs

[i] US Student Loan Debt Statistics, Student Loan Hero, March 10, 2017

[ii] US Student Loan Debt Statistics, Student Loan Hero, March 10, 2017

[iii] Snapshot of Older Consumers and Student Loan Debt, Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, January 2017

[iv] Snapshot of Older Consumers and Student Loan Debt, Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, January 2017