3 Best Ways to Make College Affordable

Published by Wendy Nelson on

We have all seen it in the news constantly – college is becoming more and more expensive.  In this post, I’m going to talk about what I consider to be the 3 best ways to make college affordable.

#1 – Get FREE Money from the College

Two ways to do this – need-based aid and merit scholarships.

If your expected family contribution (EFC) is low, your family may qualify for need-based aid.  Calculate your EFC here.

If your EFC is high, and/or if your student has a high ACT/SAT score and GPA, your student is a great candidate for large merit scholarships offered by colleges.  See my Full Scholarship List to find merit scholarships at schools around the country.

#2 – Choose an In-State Public University

One of the best ways to make college affordable is to stick with your own state’s public universities.  These schools will usually be the most affordable option unless you are offered substantial need-based or merit-based aid from a private college or out-of-state public college.

For students looking for greater academic challenge and a more intimate atmosphere than a large public university offers, many of these universities offer Honors Programs.

#3 – Start with Community College

For many students, starting at a local two-year community college is a great first step.  Community college tuition is much more affordable than 4-year college tuition and your student can typically live at home to avoid room and board cost.

Some students are ready to move out and become more independent.  For these students, community college may not seem like the best option, but if they have big goals and little money, they may need to resign themselves to living at home for two more years.

One downside to community college – statistics show that those who start at community college are less likely to go on and get a 4-year degree than those who start at a 4-year school.

Another downside – merit scholarships offered by 4-year colleges for transfer students tend to be much lower than merit aid for freshmen.