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Top 2 sure-fire ways to cut college costs

There are many ways to college affordability but two stand out above the rest in definitely saving the most and more students are likely to benefit in 2014. The first is based on the reasons college graduation rates are expected to rise according to a blog published yesterday by The Hechinger Report and the second cuts costs on the back end as reported by CNNMoney yesterday.

Cutting college costs (Scissors used for a ribbon cutting Dec. 1, 2009)
Photo by Ethan Miller

Graduating early/on time

The most college dollars are saved by earning a degree in the shortest amount of time so students can stop incurring costs and start working and earning. Anytime extra semesters are needed, higher education costs are increased dramatically. Dropping out is like paying for a huge consumer purchase and leaving the diploma “merchandise” behind. The key is for students to stay focused and receive specific help from others.

The Community College Spotlight, written by Joanne Jacobs, mentions The Game Changers report that contains “the five best college completion strategies” and the Alliance of States where each “state’s governor -- in partnership with it’s college and universities -- pledges to make college completion a top priority.”

Although The Game Changers addresses community colleges, both have great ideas for all students and institutions including:

  • Block scheduling: helps students balance jobs, activities and school by refining schedules.
  • Highly structured academic plans: keep students and schools focused on completing semester of study not individual classes.
  • Performance-based funding: aligns higher education financial investments/financial aid to outcomes as student incentives for progression and success.
  • Instructional support: provides extra remedial and academic help and can match the curriculum to real-world career needs.
  • Progress monitoring: to ensure students are able to take and complete necessary classes on time.

College pays loan bill

The second way to cut college costs occurs after graduation when those student loan bills come due. “A small but growing group of colleges are guaranteeing students that they will help them pay their student loan bills until they secure a well-paying job,” CNNMoney reports.

The program is called loan repayment assistance and LRAP Foundation acts as an insurer, charging schools an annual fee for each student enrolled in the program. “In return, it provides financial assistance for graduates who fall below certain income thresholds, which are based on salaries of recent graduates and other regional factors,” CNNMoney explains.

Participating students must graduate and work at least 30 hours a week to receive assistance and there is an income threshold that terminates the help when first reached. The loan payments may also be taxable as income to the student.

The benefits from loan repayment assistance include:

  • Peace of mind for students: unsure of career and income prospects.
  • Peace of mind for parents: fearing for their student’s financial safety.
  • Financial safety net for students: worried about their student loan debt.
  • Confidence for students: to pursue and complete a college degree in their preferred field.
  • Confidence for parents: to support their student’s college and career goals

The top two sure-fire ways to cut college cuts may be factored in by college-bound students and their parents when forming a list of best fit colleges for students to attend. Watch the video for more ideas.

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