college

8 ways to save on college visits

Highlights
  • Get subsidized college visits and discounts
  • Reduce your travel costs
  • Cull your list

Prospective students and their parents often spend a bundle visiting the colleges they're considering. Here are a few ways to cut those costs.

Long before the first tuition bill comes due, prospective college students will have to figure out how to pay the costs associated with campus visits. For those considering a college outside of easy driving distance, the costs can quickly add up to four figures and beyond.

Here are eight ways to slash expenses:

1. Get subsidized college visits and discounts. Some colleges offer fly-in reimbursement. For example, Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I., reimburses half the cost of airfare up to $150 for prospective students. Enroll, and the school will pay for the other half of the cost.

Many schools also will offer free or discounted passes to the dining hall, a list of hotels that offer discounts for prospective students and a free shuttle to and from campus. Call the admissions office at schools you're considering to see what's available.

While you've got them on the line, schedule everything for one trip so you won't have to make a return visit, says Regina Schawaroch, associate director of admissions at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

"We suggest that parents call ahead to make arrangements to get everything done at once -- the tour and admissions interview, meeting with faculty and sitting in on a class, watching an athletics practice or trying out for a team," she says.

2. Reduce your travel costs. If you're traveling by train or plane, you may be able to snare a discount by booking through specific Web sites. Student Universe and STA Travel offer discount airline tickets for students.

Considering a train? Amtrak has partnered with Campus Visit to offer a deal for high school juniors and seniors traveling with a parent or guardian. Buy a full-fare ticket and the companion ticket is 50 percent off. Check the Campus Visit Web site for details and restrictions.

3. Cull your list. The glossy brochures and books that fill the mailbox of every high school junior and senior may make it difficult to narrow down the choices. But sophisticated Web sites can help trim choices, says Brittany Burton, campus rep coordinator for the Web site CampusCompare.

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"Sites allow you to check out the campus virtually first, and student reviews give you a perspective you can't find in an average guidebook," Burton says. Sites including CampusCompare, CampusExplorer and YOUniversityTV offer an array of tools to help.

For example, CampusCompare allows students to do side-by-side comparisons of up to three schools in categories that include academics, financial aid and athletics. YOUniversityTV provides video tours of more than 200 campuses, and CampusExplorer offers tools to help student calculate their likelihood of admission at a given school.

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