Paying Less For College When You Don’t Qualify For Financial Aid

Only 47% of all undergraduate college students received federal financial aid in 2008.  So how did the rest pay the $200,000 bill at private colleges and the $70,000 at in-state public schools?   The answer is that most of them did not pay the sticker price at their college of choice.  Below I’ve identified 3 ways you can cut the cost of college even if you don’t qualify for financial aid.

1.  Go To A School You’ve Never Heard Of – Learn how to find, visit, apply to and attend a college at which you’re an appealing applicant.  Typically, these are schools that are not brand names.  By that, I don’t mean Harvard, Yale, and the rest of the Ivies, although those certainly qualify.  Instead, I mean schools like Villanova, Boston College, Amherst, Northwestern, and many others of similar ilk.  Why?  By virtue of their brand names, and the resulting public awareness, these schools are incredibly popular, which makes them receive more applications, be more selective, and therefore better able to shape their enrollment with strong academic students and diverse applicants of all types.  By attending a good college with a lesser name brand – what I call “finding the right fit” – you inherently increase your appeal as a candidate, thereby increasing your scholarship chances.  An experienced college admissions consultant can help you identify such schools, but the point is:  Find schools you’ve never heard of, and if they seem to be a good match, apply to them.

2.  Become an R.A. – Once you’re enrolled in your no-name school, find out what it takes to become a Resident Advisor.  Most colleges pay either your room and board, or a provide a stipend.  Not only will you cut your costs by $5,000 – $12,000 per year, you’ll learn a lot about leadership and interpersonal skills, not to mention the fact that you’ll enhance your post college resume.

3.  Work Hard During The Summers – Most college students are out of school by early May.  This means they get a jump on all of the high schoolers who are searching for similar summer jobs.  If they work every day for 3 months every summer, they should be able to earn and save several thousand dollars each year for spending money, books, and maybe even a small portion of tuition.  And every little bit helps!

Approaching college tuition strategically, can shave precious dollars off the most expensive investment many families will ever make.