If your federal financial
aid award left you feeling a little high and dry, don't sweat it. Uncle Sam is
just one source of funds to tap for college. From cashing in on your company's
tuition reimbursement program to attending a work or co-op college, there are
lots of ways to pay for college without ever touching the Free Application For
Student Aid, or FAFSA, form.
|There are at least 10 alternative ways to pay for
college without having to apply for loans.|
|Savvy ways to slash college expenses|
Get college credit in high school
The easiest way to avoid getting
hit with a two-ton tuition bill is simply to cut down on the amount of time you're
in school. Motivated high school students can earn up to two years' worth of college
credits by taking upper-level courses that offer both high school and college
credit. Students can earn college credit in one of three ways -- through advanced
placement, International Baccalaureate, or through dual enrollment courses. Beyond
looking good on your college application, AP, IB, and dual enrollment courses
cost significantly less than traditional college classes (usually $100 or less
per class) and oftentimes are paid for directly by the students' high school,
county or state.
Susan Nesbitt-Perez, vice president for outreach
and financial aid for the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities,
warns students not to automatically assume that all of their credits will be transferable.
"Every college is different, which makes transferring credits very challenging,"
she says. "If students know where they're applying, they should call and
ask whether or not their courses will transfer."
also warns students not to overload themselves on college-level courses. Earning
poor grades in these courses can lower your GPA and potentially make you ineligible
for merit-based financial aid.
Cash in on tax credits
Scholarships, grants and loans aren't the
only ways the federal government helps out. Educational tax credits can save you
"What students need to know is that there's
the Hope and the Lifetime learning tax credits," says Joseph M. Re, author
of "Financial Aid Financer: Expert Answers to College Financing Questions."
"If you play those right, you can pick up $7,000 from
Uncle Sam (over a four-year period) to pay for college."
Hope credit provides a $1,500 tax credit for each student for the first two years
of college, as long as you are the one paying for college -- rather than the federal
government or private financial aid. (Parents who claim the student as a dependent
on their tax return would be eligible for the credit.) The key to taking advantage
of this credit, Re says, is to plan ahead and be aware of the stipulations.
Dec. 29, 2006