Every situation is different, and college is not for everyone, but since I’m at college orientation with my oldest child right now…
My frugal tip is to attend in-state, public institutions for higher education. They are a great value. And dig this: the families we’ve met from other states are saying that Iowa’s out-of-state tuition is close to their in-state tuition back home.
My student is also taking a class at a community college this summer. This class has transfer credit to the university and it is significantly cheaper than university credit, even when you take gas money into account. Summer classes can jump start a four-year plan and make room for other courses in fall and spring semester course loads.
If your child approaching grade 8, think about college now. Are there other ways for you to save money at college? Yes. By planning, knowing the law, and asking good questions of college staff.
- Knowing the entrance requirements for colleges and choosing your high school courseload accordingly. Using your state universities as a baseline is a sensible option if you don’t know what college your child will choose. Example: one of our state universities requires 3 years of high school foreign language work, so your kid should plan on taking at least 3 years of high school foreign language classes. If she doesn’t, she will have to take a foreign language class once she gets to campus, and university credits are expensive when compared to high school credits.
- Taking A.P. exams during high school. If the colleges of your student’s choice accept A.P. scores, see if he can take one or more A.P. classes before graduation. The cost of an A.P. test is a fraction of the price of one credit hour, so if your student believes he can get a decent score, then have him take the test.
- Taking a CLEP test. Same thing as above, except CLEP is pass/not pass. If your high school does not offer A.P. tests, this may be more feasible for you.
- Enrolling in community college courses during high school, and take summer class(es) while in college. But this also comes with a warning: Take the community college path only if the credits will transfer to your university of choice. If you are out-of-state, summer courses at the university are frequently charged at the in-state rate.
- In Iowa, using PSEO for your high school student — nothing beats nearly free.
- Talking to admissions offices and other staff at the higher learning institution of your choice.