The following post is from Melissa Batai
College is expensive, there’s no doubt about that. However, with rising costs, more parents, students, and universities are becoming cognizant of the student loan debt problem and offering students solutions. If you dig around, you can find a variety of ways to save money when attending college.
Go to a College with a Regional Exchange
A number of states offer a variety of regional exchanges. For instance, if you’re a resident of Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota or Wisconsin, you can take advantage of the Midwest Student Exchange Program and attend a college within one of the other states in the exchange and be charged no more than 150% of in-state tuition, saving you potentially thousands of dollars a year.
Likewise, the Western Undergraduate Exchange offers the same agreement for 16 western states.
The Southern Regional Education Board’s Academic Common Market offers in-state tuition rates for out-of-state residents of 13 southern states, but students have to be majoring in a major that is not offered in their home state for the tuition discount to apply.
Go to a College that Charges State Tuition for All Students
My son wrote to my alma mater, Southern Illinois University, asking for information, and I was surprised to find that even though the college is in Illinois, they now charge all of the students from the United States in-state tuition rates. I had no idea this was a thing, but I discovered many colleges, including Mississippi Valley State University and Minot State University, just to name a few, also offer in-state tuition for all domestic students.
Go to Your Parents’ Alma Mater
Many colleges offer Legacy Scholarships, offered to children of alumni. For example, at the University of Wyoming, if you’re an out-of-state student whose parents are UW alumni, you will pay no more than 150% of in-state tuition.
Utah State University offers out-of-state students of alumni the opportunity to pay in-state tuition + $1,000 additional per semester.
Go to a College with Fixed Rate Tuition
Hundreds of colleges now offer fixed rate tuition, meaning the annual amount a student pays stays the same for all four years of college. This can be a great way to help college students accurately estimate their expenses for all four years, but there are a few caveats.
To offer this kind of incentive, most colleges front end the first two years of college, which means students on the fixed rate tuition plan pay more than other students not on the fixed rate plan the first two years, but by the last two years they’re paying less than other students not on the fixed rate plan due to inflation.
In addition, if you choose this plan, make sure you understand how long the fixed rate is good for. Some colleges only offer a four-year fixed rate plan as incentive to make sure students graduate on time, while other colleges offer a five-year fixed rate plan.
These are just four ways that can save you significantly, if you know what to look for.
My Question for You
If you’re a parent preparing to send your child to college, what other ways have you found to save the most money on college tuition? If you’ve recently graduated from college, what financial incentives most enticed you to choose the college that you chose?