3 Big Tips To Save You the Money to Tame Those College Money Worries

by David Ning · 9 comments

This is a guest post from Bill Muhlenfeld, who runs a site that’s focused entirely on college money issues for parents.  Learn more at Money Launch My Kid.

No dollar tips or piggy banks here. We’re going to talk about the big numbers.

Are you trying to figure out how you’re going to pay for your kid’s college with your savings in the tank? Worried about your college graduate leaving with a degree and ten years of loan payments?
Robbing from your 401k or IRA to fund college are among the worst ideas, even more so now that the values of many of those investments are chopped in half due to the economic downturn. There are many sleepless nights in the homes of the college bound now that parents and kids are struggling with the difficulty of floating $200,000 in costs over the next four years without barrel-rolling the family finances over a Niagara of debt.

If you could save tens of thousands of dollars and maybe forgo borrowing altogether, would you? It is not only possible, it’s absolutely doable; and a reminder that the simplest solutions are often the best. Here are three mega-saving ideas for the new (and the old) student:

  1. Start your son or daughter out at a community college, transferring at the end of year one or two. This has become greatly popular during the current recession, and has driven applications up by double digits across the country. Why? It works. When I attended college I was entirely on my own and had a little bit less than no money. I went to a two year college (“junior” they called it then) and transferred in year three. My BA is from the University of Illinois. Nowhere does it mention that I only spent two years among the Fighting Illini. I left college with a degree and no debt.
  2. State schools are also experiencing a sudden, unexpected interest and upsurge of stay-at-home students, all in the interest of saving many thousands of dollars in tuition, fees and living expenses from more “desirable” out-of-state and private universities. Oregon State, for example has a 12 % increase of new applications, a number which seems to hold up across the country.
  3. Let’s not leave Oregon State quite yet, as it is the flip side of our final mega-buck college savings tip. While new applications are up 12%, student transfers are up an astounding 31%. Cash-strapped kids are returning home, where state-supported schools offer some of the best bargains in education.

Remember, you are not alone. Just make sure you get to the front of the line. Even the community colleges and state schools are starting to tighten up on admissions due to the increase in applications.

Btw, there's a pretty nifty tool that motivates your kids to do chores. It's called MyJobChart.com. With a free account, they can earn points for finishing jobs you assign them, good towards free merchandise. Give it a try. It's completely free!

Money Saving Tip: An incredibly effective way to save more is to reduce your monthly Internet and TV costs. Click here for the current Verizon FiOS promotion codes and promos to see if you can save more money every month from now on.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Nate @ Debt-free Scholar March 17, 2009 at 7:10 am

You can also save lots of money by completing college online. I have written some about that on my blog.

Thanks,
Nate

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B7 March 17, 2009 at 7:49 am

Why would you send your children to college? I think it is a massive waste of time and money. It makes the parents poor and sets the kid up to be an employee for the rest of their lives.

Love your blog.

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MoneyNing March 17, 2009 at 9:44 am

B7: Wow wait a minute… I think you get out of college what you put into it and it also highly depends on the field that you are in. I don’t think anyone disputes that college is a good stepping stone for medical and law students (or even Engineering students) that go on to get PhDs.

I thought college was great and while it could have been 2 years instead of 4 for sure, I still use on my blog some of the things I learned back in the days whether it’s knowledge or experience.

I would never call college a waste of time.

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Stephanie PTY March 17, 2009 at 12:07 pm

While it’s definitely worth looking into, I would caution against using community college as a “cure-all” for saving money and/or time. When it comes to some majors, going to community college first will save you neither. In my case, it would have just added two years and the costs of community college onto the four years and the costs of such that it took to get my Bachelor’s. Why? Because my major was designed to take exactly four years, and it’s insanely hard to get credits from another school to count. (My major was Film and Animation, if anyone is wondering.)

For this reason, I turned down several scholarships that would have let me go to other colleges for free for the first two years – I knew it wouldn’t save me time or money.

Community college works when you are majoring in something offered at a lot of schools, where the curriculum is largely the same from school to school, or where the classes in your major at the 4-year school don’t have to be taken in a certain order. It’s also good if you don’t know what you want to major in, and you’d like to “dabble” for a while.

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QOAS March 17, 2009 at 12:32 pm

I also agree that college is not a waste of time. But if you do not have the money, the kids can help out by supporting themselves through part time work.This is something doable and will also teach them to be financially independent.

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MoneyNing March 17, 2009 at 12:54 pm

I agree with QQAS completely about working part time even if it means graduating in more than 4 years. If anything, college is as much the “experience and life lessons” than the knowledge gained.

Also, I’ve seen countless examples of people having to work for college end up being much more responsible than people who were just thrown in there for free and not knowing how many sacrifices their parents made to get them into a good college.

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Gayle March 18, 2009 at 9:07 am

I really agree with you that there are many ways to get a college education. In Missouri we have a program A+ which gives students who meet minimum requirements two years of free tuition.

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Play Games Win Prizes March 20, 2009 at 12:53 pm

The “community college” process is actually very old news, but parents just love to push their kids into UCs and Cal States because it looks better. They just do not know it wastes more money.

…UCs and Cal States are also the places for parties too…;) not community colleges.

-Mike

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Melanie March 4, 2010 at 6:27 am

Great article. I interned for a company 2 summers ago (Campus Special) that actually helps college students save money. It’s not a scholarship or financial aid but every little bit helps. It’s amazing how popular coupons are when you’re on a budget. check out their site they are very popular at my school

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