Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Stretch Your College Dollars

A great site for college planning is College Prep.  I just read an interesting article there about making the most of your college dollars.  I strongly recommend the entire list, but I want to briefly discuss a few.
"Take a full course load. Full time students take 15 hours a semester and can complete a 120-hour degree in four years. Some programs such as engineering or architecture may require more hours. Students who relax and take only 12 hours a semester cannot graduate in four years and will end up spending more money for the same degree."
This is HUGE.  Extra semesters can be very expensive.  In addition, if you can take a couple of classes each summer you can easily graduate early.  That's not for everyone, but it might be for you.  As mentioned below, be sure the credits will transfer before you register. (Often this is not an option after the start of your junior year.  Ask first!)
"Keep in mind that sororities and fraternities can be very expensive. Above the initial costs, remember to factor in clothes for formals, ticket prices for events, and all the extras. Talk to friends and neighbors who are currently involved with the Greek system to estimate your actual costs."
Like any major expense, pay attention to costs and make smart choices.  When I joined a fraternity the reduced cost of housing more than paid for the costs associated with being a member.  In addition, on some campuses Greek life is a MAJOR part of the social scene.  Again, make a smart choice for you.
"Make sure your credits will transfer before taking courses at another school. Community colleges can be an affordable way to complete some requirements, but your money will be wasted if your college won’t accept the credit. Ask before you enroll."
The easy way the handle this is to assume credits will transfer.  The smart way is to ask in advance.  Which way will you choose?
"Travel home can be costly if you go out of state for college. How often do you and your parents expect to fly? The fewer trips you make, the more money you save."
And it's more than money.  This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance.  If you're lucky enough to go away to college, how often do you want to come home.  Granted, it's a personal choice, but when I see kids coming home every 2-3 weeks, I can't help but think the extra expense of going away to school was largely wasted.

Agian, I highly recommend the whole list (and much more) at College Prep.

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