college

7 lesser-known financial aid programs

Spend-to-save programs
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Spend-to-save programs

These programs won't reduce your tuition, but they will amplify your college savings. Fidelity's 529 College Rewards credit card invests 2 percent of your purchase amounts into a 529 account. Family members can also link their cards to your account to increase the rewards.

Shop online through Upromise.com, and a percentage of your purchases will go into a special online account, which can then be emptied into a 529 plan or used to pay down student debt.

"You can easily accumulate $300, $400, $500 in that program," says Clark.

Babymint.com works the same way. Both programs are free, and both offer extra incentives if you enlist friends and family.

A handful of 529 plans will also pay you for investing. States including Arkansas, Kansas and Louisiana will match a portion of your 529 savings up to a certain limit each year. Limits and eligibility requirements vary by state. Contact your state's 529 administrator to find out if a matching grant program is available for your plan.


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