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Special section Save more, spend less in '07

Here are 10 ways to pay for college without relying on loans.

10 alternative ways to cut college costs

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A Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, like the Pell grant, is free money for eligible undergraduate students; you needn't pay it back. But like other need-based aid programs, it can be difficult to qualify. Re says that students often have a better shot of getting need-based aid of all kinds if they can establish themselves as an independent. "If Mom and Dad aren't springing for your tuition bill and you're at least 24 years old, married, an orphan, a grad or doctoral student, a veteran, or have dependents of your own, you could qualify for a lot more free money than you ever could have under your parents' roof. Students who file FAFSA as independents only declare their own income and assets, removing any of their parents' cash or assets from the financial aid equation."

9. Work your way through a "work college"
Instead of scrambling for scholarships, why not go where cash for college is guaranteed for all students willing to put in a little hard labor for it? In lieu of hiring an enormous professional staff to maintain the campus, six work colleges in the United States hire students instead and reinvest the cash saved in the form of financial aid. Students who attend a work college are required to maintain a part-time job (usually 10 to 20 hours per week) and can wind up doing anything from tutoring to tilling. In exchange for their time and effort, work college students are rewarded with a significant reduction in tuition (or a full four-year scholarship if they attend College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri or Berea College in Berea, Kentucky) and graduate with more practical experience and professional recommendations than their traditional school counterparts.

Work colleges aren't the only places to get compensated for your labors. Many colleges and universities across the country offer paid cooperative education programs that are available to all students regardless of whether or not they qualify for work-study positions. Co-op students work jobs in their major and are usually paid wages higher than those of work-study students. More important than the cash are the contacts. Call your school's career services department to find out about co-ops.

10. Move out-of-state for a year
If you really want to pay in-state prices, the best way to do that is simply to live in-state before you enroll in school. To establish residency, independent students or families (when students are dependent) must show proof of living in state for at least one year prior to enrolling in school. While proving residency can be difficult and usually requires students to present rental checks and/or utility bills dating back at least one year, an in-state driver's license, proof of in-state employment, and documentation that the student paid in-state taxes the previous year, it may be well worth the hassle. For a full list of residency requirements by state, check out The College Board's Web site.

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-- Updated: Dec. 29, 2006
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