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6 Key Strategies that Make College More Affordable

Saving money for a college education is an important and popular topic discussed by many families, especially today because student loan debt continues to rise and surpass consumer debt. Families are concerned with how to pay for a college education and determining the payoff for obtaining a degree. These are valid concerns, but we often overlook the importance of positioning, which leads to the savings. Those who follow my writings or have read my book know I stress the importance of preparing and planning. Having adequate preparation which leads to the planning phase yields strong positioning. These three phases are part of the process of obtaining a college education. Just like life is a process filled with many experiences of mini-processes, going to college is a process as well. It’s a process that requires adequate research, attention to detail, much preparation and planning. I am going to provide 6 Tips or Strategies that can help families maximize their dollars when it comes to funding a college education. Families must do their due diligence and master these elements in order to reap the benefits.

  1. Consider Community Colleges for the first Two-Years of College: Students who perform well academically can usually transfer to a top university at a smaller ticket price. In addition, classes can be taken at community colleges during your child’s last year of high school as a way to save money if your child chooses to attend a four-year institution. Be sure the classes taken will transfer to the University of Choice.
  2. Enroll Your Child In Advanced Placement Classes: Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses not only give you college-level coursework, but it also affords you the opportunity to earn college credit when the subject test(s) are successfully passed. In other words, every college-level course they place out of, is money you are saving in tuition costs ~ around $500-$700 per class savings.
  3. Choose Colleges Focused on Minimizing Student Debt and/or Have Creative Payment Plans: Many schools are answering the call to provide a college education without burdening their graduates with student loan debt (www.projectonstudentdebt.org/). Keep in mind, most of these schools are competitive and require a strong high school portfolio. Schools are also offering special scholarships, installment plans, guaranteed cost plans, and tuition remission for good grades as payment options. Always Ask the questions others won’t ask.
  4. Target Colleges with a Track Record of Awarding Strong Financial Aid Packages: Many schools publish statistics on how much "need" they meet and how much FREE money and loans they give out. Ideally, you want to target schools with higher “Free” money awarded and less loan money and apply. Don’t waste time on schools keeping students in debt.
  5. Negotiate, Negotiate, and Negotiate Better Financial Aid Packages: Everything is Negotiable, even in the world of financial aid. When schools submit their proposed financial aid packages, know they are not set in stone and you don’t have to accept them. The only way to negotiate is to have acceptance letters and financial aid packages from multiple schools to play against one another. Don't Be Afraid To Negotiate!
  6. Seek out non-traditional, outside the box and creative funding opportunities: With mortgage rates at an all-time low, consider refinancing your home with a low and fixed rate and interest only mortgage via refinancing. Consult a tax professional to assess tax savings. Check your state for special funding programs such as HOPE Scholarships, “In-State” offers, Special Career funding offers (Teachers, STEM fields, etc.)

It is my goal to provide practical tips and strategies that will pay off in the long run for families. I hope you saw the value and gained a different perspective on ways to make college more affordable and a realistic option. Don’t settle for no, but look for alternative methods to make the “no” a resounding “yes". You are now equipped with the tools to making your child’s dreams come true.

Tameka Williamson
The WILL Power Success Coach
Best Selling Author of A Road to Success: The College Preparatory & Planning Guide
www.coachtwill.com
www.myowncollegecoach.com

 
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