36 easy life hacks to keep college costs affordable (part 2)

This is the second part of our six-part series on saving a buck while attending college. Click here to read part 1.

7. Weigh price and value when evaluating schools

It seems simple enough, but too often cost doesn’t factor into decisions about college. But cost, in fact, is the most important part of the equation. A lot should go into judging the cost vs. return-on-investment that a college experience provides, and there is no pat formula. It’s generally wise to remember that most employers tend to value skills and on-the-job experience above a school’s name.

8. Buy used textbooks

The price of brand-new textbooks is often exorbitant. But consider the fact that each semester, there are reams of students who no longer have need for a given textbook. Buying used textbooks can lead to hundreds of dollars in savings per semester.

Good resources for used textbooks include Half.com (which allows you to easily type in the barcode of the textbook and find a match) or Amazon.com. The library at your college or university might also have options for purchasing used textbooks.

9. Consider dual enrollment

As we wrote about last month, dual enrollment can significantly cut your college expenses. It’s also a big time save—making the most use of high school and college credits. To learn more, click here to read our six reasons to consider pursuing dual enrollment.

10. Take advantage of tax benefits for college students

Tax savings for college students can add up fast. There are two available: the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit. Also be sure to take advantage of qualifying deductions for education expenses (including tuition, textbooks, and room and board). For recent graduates, don’t forget that your student loan interest is tax deductible as well.

11. Consider distance education

Used to be, when you thought “online degree,” a diploma mill immediately popped into your head. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case. The growth of online learning and distance education over the past few years has been incredible. Even for students enrolled at traditional brick and mortar schools, it’s unusual for them to not take at least one course online.

Distance education can be a significant cost-cutting measure. Many community colleges offer these courses. Combining that with a four-year school that has an open policy regarding transferring credits—such as Thomas Edison State College—means you can easily keep the cost of a bachelor’s degree under $10,000. Now that’s cool!

12. Be open to working during the summer

If you’re taking our advice from part 1, you’ll be trying to avoid student loans. A solid summer job can be a fantastic way to better cover tuition and room and board costs. Even better, getting a job or internship in your chosen field of study will give you a valuable addition to your resume. Weigh how best you can use your summers and don’t waste the time!

Check back soon for another six tips for reducing college costs!

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