Reducing the cost of a college education

Pursuing a college degree can be expensive. In addition to applying for merit-based financial aid like scholarships, what are some of the other ways you can plan ahead to reduce the cost of going to college?

One strategy you can use to reduce the overall cost of your degree is plan ahead so that you graduate on time. Delays, extra semesters and missed classes can all mean additional tuition payments, which drives up the cost. Figure out exactly how many classes you can take each semester, and be realisitc. Consider taking summer classes to make up some credits if you need to.

If you're planning on living on-campus, pick a smaller dorm room and cheaper meal plan. Although it's tempting to splurge on a larger room and a meal plan that could feed an entire family, think about the cost implications in the long-run before making any decisions. Another way to save money is to apply to a school that's closer to home and commute. Use a college search engine to narrow down a list of schools in your area.

When you're buying course materials like books, do so ahead of time, and be sure to check online and in used bookstores – the cost of textbooks can add up quickly, so some bargain hunting before the start of class could save you some cash.

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