EPISODE 34 ~ SAVE MORE: Tuition: Clever Ways to Save Money On a College Education

This is a follow up to MY last episode, number 33, where I covered unusual ways to MAKE money for college.  If you can make more AND save more on college, you might just have it covered.  Here goes:

  1. Fund an out-of-state 529. Many people don’t know that you can start a 529 plan in another state.  You don’t have to stick with the plans in the state where you live.  Some state plans have lower fees or are better run.  For example, according to NerdWallet, if you invested $5,000 in Oregon’s plan in 2010, five years later your account would have grown to $7,714.  But if you invested the same $5,000 in Michigan’s plan, five years later your account would have grown to $10,017.  It pays to look around.
  2. Apply to tuition-free college.  YES, there are a few schools that charge no tuition at all.  One is the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, located in New York.  Another is Berea College in Kentucky.  One more example: College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri. There are others and one might be a fit for you or your child.
  3. Negotiate a lower tuition. If you can’t go to school for free, how about for less?  When schools give out financial aid, often the first round offer is actually calculated by a computer.  If you are an excellent student, if you have better offers from other colleges or if the amount of aid is close but not quite enough, those are all good wedges to start a conversation and politely ask for more.
  4. Get the tax benefits: Federal student loans can be tax deductible, so don’t over look that possibility.  Ask a tax pro.
  5. Private student loans can sometimes have a lower interest rate than federal ones, if you have an excellent credit score, so shop and compare.
  6. Discounts for good grades: Some private student loan providers will do this, so be sure to check and let them know how you’re doing.
  7. Go to community college first.  This is a tried and true idea, but what you may not know is that a group called AmericanHonors.org will guarantee your admission to a long list of big name schools if you take required courses and maintain a good GPA.
  8. Graduate in 3 years.  My assistant on Easy Money is doing this and saving something like 40-thousand dollars.
  9. Take summer classes. This could help you graduate in 3 years.  It’s also a great plan because summer credits are often CHEAPER!  For example, Purdue University says you can spend summer on campus -including tuition, room and board— for about half the cost of a regular semester.
  10. And final way to save on college: Most schools now automatically enroll you in their campus health insurance plan.  If you have a good health plan that covers you while you’re at school, opt out of the school plan and save hundreds or even thousands.
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