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8 alternative ways to pay for college -- Page 2

So why not attend a community college for a couple of years and then transfer to your dream college? It's not as if the fancy diploma you'll hang on your wall will say "transfer student."

Taking the transfer-student route will save you some serious cash. Every credit earned at a low-cost community college could save you hundreds of dollars in tuition. Also, by bunking at your parent's house, you could knock down your room-and-board charges to zero.

"You get some of your core curriculum out of the way for a cheaper price," Cooper says.

The first step is learning about articulation agreements at your dream university and nearby two-year colleges.

An articulation agreement specifies which community college course credits will be accepted toward a bachelor's degree at the four-year college or university. It also outlines scholarship requirements and specifies what kind of grades a student must achieve to transfer to the four-year school as a junior.

3. Go where you're wanted
Somewhere out there is a college or university that's dying to have you as a student. Find that school, fire off an application and watch the cost of your college education drop.

"Every student is a star at the right college," says Ray Loewe, president of College Money, a Marlton, N.J., financial planning firm specializing in helping parents pay for college.

And star students get deep discounts for their education. A college that really wants you will find the aid and scholarships to keep you.

"Colleges know what they want, and if you fit their criteria, they're willing to pay," Loewe says.

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The trick is finding the school that considers you a star.

Peruse college guides. Do your grades and SAT scores match or exceed the average marks of the current student body? Does the college offer the courses you want?

If so, this could be the school that rolls out the red carpet for you.

"Choose a college where you fit in the top 25 to 30 percent of a class," Loewe says. "Obviously, the higher you are the more the school wants you and the better position you're in."

Not sure where to start your college search? Begin by checking out smaller, regional colleges in your area. An excellent but less-known college may be searching for a student just like you.

4. Choose a tuition-free school
Overwhelmed by tuition prices and the prospect of paying massive student loans after you graduate? Why not attend a tuition-free school? You get the college education you want without the hefty price tag. The catch? You may have to work. Some schools require students to work 10 to 15 hours a week on campus and in jobs related to their majors.

Tuition-free colleges include The Cooper Union in New York, N.Y.; Webb Institute in Glen Cove, N.Y.; Berea College in Berea, Ky.; College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Mo.; and Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes, Ky.

5. Get a sponsor
Can’t quite swing the cost of college? Federal student loans are the best way to go when borrowing money for school. The government sets the maximum rate of interest and any qualified federal loan lender is able to charge less, such as MyRichUncle. The company provides federal Stafford, PLUS and Graduate PLUS student with upfront interest rates that start at repayment. There are no minimum number of on-time payments to qualify and this interest rate cut will never be taken away from the borrower, so long as they don’t default of their loan.


-- Updated: March 6, 2006




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