Knowledge Bound: The RSC Blog

Visit the Knowledge Bound Blog regularly for news analysis, editorials and facts about education and financial aid.

Posted on Feb 29, 2012 - 06:00 AM | Student Debt | Comments (0)

Paying for college is often a lot like buying groceries – you want to get the best value for your money, but you also want your meal to be a satisfying experience. You look for ways to control your costs, but some of them don’t make sense, like driving all the way across town just to save 5¢ on a can of soup. In the end, you’ve spent too much for something that would have been just as good without the unreasonable effort.
It was a cost you could have controlled.
By controlling less obvious factors that affect cost, you’ll also find that you can keep college in your family’s price range.
Factors That Increase College Costs
  1. Remedial classes. Testing out of remedial classes means taking fewer classes, helping you graduate sooner and saving thousands (and sometimes tens of thousands) of dollars. Get out of remedial classes through a combination of SAT/ACT prep, Advanced Placement/Honors classes, and knowing which colleges consider you an academic match.
  2. Transferring colleges. Transferring colleges can mean having to take some classes over again if your credits don’t transfer. Like remedial classes, this can add thousands to your total college bill.
  3. Changing majors. Changing majors (something 44% of college students do at least once) can mean taking new prerequisites that delay your graduation and not surprisingly (say it with us) adds thousands to your total college bill.
  4. Going too far from home. Going to a college close to home doesn’t mean commuting from your parent’s house, but it does mean staying within a few hours drive. This will cut your travel expenses, on-campus living expenses (food, laundry, etc.) and keep you from getting homesick, which often leads to problem number two – transferring colleges.
  5. Poor financial aid. Students know the key to an affordable education is good financial aid, but they don’t always know the keys to getting it. Here are a few pointers (we have a whole handbook on the subject – What You Need to Know About Financial Aid that we just can’t condense into one blog post). First, find a college where you’re in the top 25% academically (see tip number one) and then find a list of top financial aid colleges (we update our list every year.) You don’t control every step in financial aid, but these are two you do – apply to the schools that will offer you the best financial aid.
Market Research Controls College Costs
Just as families look through Sunday fliers looking for the best deals, a little research on colleges can save you a lot of money, too. Rank colleges according to criteria that’s important to you. This should include up to 25 specific categories that meet your personal, academic, professional, and social needs. After that, conduct campus visits to see if a campus truly meets your requirements.
It’s a bit like visiting several stores to find out which ones routinely offer you the best deal. But unlike a satisfying meal you’ll forget in just a few hours, saving on your college education can impact the rest of your life because you’ll graduate without deep debts and emerge with a degree that could put you on the path to financial security.
To find out more about how RSC’s counselors can save you money on your college education, call 800-304-1433 today!


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