3 Tips to Pay Less for College or Career Training
From time to time someone walks into my office and asks how they could go to school for little to no cost or for free. The usual conversation starts with grants, scholarships, and working while you go to school. We end our chat by talking through the basics of loans. But, there are some simple financial things to know about while you’re actually in school that could save you some dough down the road.
- PASSING YOUR CLASSES
I know what you’re thinking, it’s pretty easy to do. However, at any point if you needed to withdraw from a class, or if you don’t pass it, it is money you will not get back. The average cost of a credit hour at a four-year public institution is around $325. By that amount, each credit hour is worth 44 packages of Nissan Cup Noodles Beef Flavor 24-Count or 20 packages of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Boxes (18 Count) if you want to keep things classy. However, not passing a class isn’t the only thing that can cost you money, you probably spent a hefty amount of money on books and fees – but you may be able to resell the book and use the money for the next semester (please note: your textbook may have depreciated in value if they change editions or curriculums).
*Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist but having been on the “ramen-diet” for my second semester of college, I do not recommend ramen as your sole source of food.
- FULL TIME VS. ON-TIME
More and more schools are encouraging students to go to on-time status, and yes, on-time status is what you should be aiming for. Simply put, full time status means you are taking 12 - 14 credits per semester, and on-time status means you are taking 15 credits or more per semester. If we just do the simple math of each, it equates to:
|12 Credits per Semester
||15 Credits per Semester
|96 Credits Total
||120 Credits Total
You will need at least 120 credits to graduate with a four year degree. Going full time is not going to cut it, and you will need to take a fifth year to get enough credits. Running the numbers, that is another $7800 on average that you will be paying for tuition. Don’t forget that you will be paying another year in books, fees, and housing. Not to bore you, but that fifth year could easily cost you $17,000.
- LOAN INTEREST RATES
When students do need to borrow, taking full advantage of lower loan interest rates is by far the simplest way to save money. Right now the Federal Direct Loan for undergraduates is 5.05% - that’s the best loan to start with. But it doesn’t cover enough expenses for everyone. The organization I work for, ACPE, offers the Alaska Supplemental Education Loan, which has loan rates from 5.15% to 8.25% , depending on credit score. However, when people start asking their bank or a private lender for a loan, they find that their rates can sky rocket into the double digits. Here is a blog post about different interest rates: 15 Minutes Could Save you $15,000 or more on Student Loans
Here are some other tips to consider when taking out student loans.
For even more info on not spending too much on student loans – check out this pdf: Don’t Pay Too Much
There are more ways for you to save while you’re in school, but when it comes to the basics, simply passing classes, being in an on-time status, and getting the lowest loan rates will go a long way to financial independence once you graduate. If you do need any assistance with any financial aid questions, please come by the ACPE Success Center located at the Dimond Center Mall. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call us at 1 (800) 441-2962, option #4.
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