36 easy life hacks to keep college costs affordable (part 4)

This is the fourth part of our six-part series on saving a buck while attending college. Read part 1, part 2, and part 3.

18. Apply for a high-school honors program and/or pursue scholarships

If your student is still in high school, consider the benefits of enrollment in an honors program. It’s easy to overlook the financial perks of honors programs, but they can be significant by saving money through scholarships. On that same topic, be sure to fully vet whether your student qualifies for academic- or need-based scholarships. It’s even better to think about this strategically before high school.

19. See if your college will give credits for life experiences or prior work history

Depending on the college or university, post-secondary schools can give plenty of leeway in providing credits for past work or life experiences. This “portfolio review” can be a powerful tool for saving money and time and powering ahead toward the completion of a degree.

Typically, portfolio review work requires students to provide proof of college-level prior experience and understanding. For example, if your student completed a three-month summer internship at a weekly newspaper, he or she might be able to gain credit for a class on introduction to news reporting.

Portfolio review can be a better option for students who have some experience under their belts prior to entering college—perhaps through taking a gap year to explore job opportunities. Even for students making a direct transition from high school to college, exploring this option is worthwhile.

20. Take advantage of student discounts

Students can reap big discounts on everything from practical items (such as computers and software) to dining (some restaurants offer discounts and freebies) to publications (magazine and newspapers) to entertainment (reduced-price movie tickets). All this is possible through a student ID. It’s important to take advantage of these discounts, since students won’t see them again until they are senior citizens!

21. Say “no” to the credit cards

Thankfully, college students’ access to credit cards has declined in recent years, due in part to 2009 federal legislation that tightened restrictions on how credit card companies can appeal to those under 21. Even so, opportunities to use credit in college still exist, so it’s important to be careful. A better option is a debit card, which should help keep the lid on spending. Some parents choose to fund their student’s debit card with a set amount each month, creating even greater accountability.

22. If your student is commuting, consider a carpool to save on gas and maintenance

As we’ve mentioned before, living at home while attending school can be a huge cost saver. But gas and wear and tear on a vehicle resulting from a daily commute can take their toll. So just as looking for a roommate can be a good idea, looking for a “car-mate” can as well.

The Ultimate Homeschool Guide to Creating a High School Transcript

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


Content marketer, author, and homeschool graduate. Co-founder of Transcript Maker, the high school transcript app.

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