Paying For College

The Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, “The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.” When considering these bitter roots of education, was Aristotle thinking about college tuition?

Without a doubt, the price of a good college education can be expensive in the United States. However, students can plan ahead to lower the overall cost.

Grants, scholarships, federal student loans, and private student loans are all available to help pay for college. Service representatives at credit unions and banks can share options and plans. And guidance counselors in schools can, too. Our article “Financing Higher Education” explains the differences between grants, scholarships, federal student loans, and private student loans.

For those in high school, consider advanced college-accredited classes, often called Advanced Placement (AP). These classes can count as credits toward earning a college degree, and later could help save thousands of dollars off of college tuition. High school counselors can explain what classes are available and the requirements for enrolling in these courses.

Some students take a so-called “gap” year before starting college. During the gap year, they often get a job and save money toward tuition. Gap years also allow students an opportunity to obtain work and life experience. Many students profit from this extra time to prepare for university life.

One strategy for bringing down the cost of higher education is to attend a community college for a couple of years. Community colleges are typically less expensive than four-year colleges and allow students to fulfill basic credit requirements at a lower cost. These credits usually can then be transferred to a four-year. Online college courses can also allow students to earn credits. However, a student should check to be sure that the online classes are accredited and that the credit will be accepted by the four-year college or university the student wants to attend – and that the online courses will count toward the major.

Renting an apartment with other students, or commuting from home rather than living in school dorms, also can save on housing costs. On campuses, students often can apply for work-study program opportunities. In addition to earning money, students can meet other students through these work-study jobs.
No matter which way one thinks of it, the cost of education is a big investment. But by thinking strategically and planning ahead – even years ahead – the investment can come with a lower price tag.


Jen and Honorine

This article is part of a monthly financial literacy column for Amjambo Africa by Riverside Senior Branch Manager Jen Smith and Forest Ave. Assistant Branch Manager Honorine Uwishema. Amjambo Africa is a printed newspaper and website that serves as a conduit of information for newcomers as they navigate life in Maine.