Keeping College Costs Low

A good way to stay out of unnecessary debt is to plan to avoid nonessential costs. There are a few ways to do this effectively.

Focus on scholarships

  1. Research local scholarships early and work on earning them. Most scholarships are awarded annually, so figure out what they'll be looking for on applications during your senior year.
  2. Get involved.  It increases your chances of earning scholarships from your school and other organizations.
  3. Apply for as many scholarships as possible. They add up!

Take the right classes

In high school:

  1. Get ready for what comes after graduation. Take a challenging course load in high school to avoid remedial classes in college. They're free in high school, but cost money in college!
  2. Earn college credits at a discount. Taking AP or dual-credit classes while in high school means you could earn college credits at a discounted rate. Make sure you take any college classes you take in high school seriously, though – don't start college with failing grades on your transcript—that could negatively affect your financial aid eligibility when you get there.

In college:

  1. Plan ahead. Take placement tests and talk to an advisor before registering for classes. An advisor can also help with course selection if you haven't yet decided on a major.
  2. Stay on track. Take enough classes to graduate on time. Usually, that means an average of fifteen credits per semester. A mix of easy and difficult classes each semester will keep your course load manageable.

Invest (your time and money) wisely

  1. Compare the cost of your school with potential earnings in your chosen career.
  2. Want to go out of state? Consider exchange programs, such as the Western Undergraduate Exchange or National Student Exchange to help cut tuition costs.

Apply for financial aid

  1. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) early in your senior year - it's now available in December! Some student aid is first-come, first-served, so it's important to file early. Once you're in college, remember to file the FAFSA every year!
  2. If you borrow money, start with the lowest possible interest rate loan first (usually federally subsidized loans). If you need to borrow more than the lowest-cost federal loans provide, compare Alaska and other federal loans to find the best fit for you.
  3. If you need extra income while you're enrolled, consider work-study (apply through the FAFSA) or another on-campus part-time job. They are usually flexible and work around your school schedule.