5 Tips for Affording College

Funding College: Valuable Tips

  • Create a Solid Educational Plan
  • Stay Within a Four to Six-Year Time Frame
  • Apply for Federally Funded Financial Aid
  • Purchase Used Textbooks When Possible
  • Consider Work Study Programs or Part-Time Employment

Prospective college students who are looking for tips to help them afford college have come to the right place! From tuition and college textbooks to school supplies and technology, the costs of college can be quite overwhelming. But when students make use of the following tips, they can significantly minimize these costs and save more money than they may have thought was possible.

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1. Create a Solid Educational Plan

One of the most important tips that can help make college more affordable is to create a solid educational plan and stick to it. Aspiring college students are often told that it is not important to declare a major right away, but for those persons who are looking to save money on college costs, this is not always a good idea. When students constantly change their majors, they end up paying for courses that they would not have had to pay for had they declared a single major and stuck to it. And what is even more troubling is that students who consistently change their programs of study often find that they run out of federal financial aid before they can even earn their degrees.

2. Stay Within a Four to Six-Year Time Frame

Another valuable tip for reducing the costs of college is to stay within a four to six-year time frame for completing a program of study. It is a simple fact that the longer it takes to complete a program, the more expensive it will be in the long run. And for this reason, it is best to limit or even eliminate any extra-curricular courses that are not requirements of one’s program. Enrolling in only those courses that are required for a chosen program of study can help to reduce college costs over the long haul. Attending two or three courses during summer semesters can help students complete their programs within a shorter time frame as well.

3. Apply for Federally Funded Financial Aid

Perhaps the best tip for affording college is to apply for federally funded financial aid from the United States Department of Education as early as possible each year that students wish to attend classes. There are basically two categories of federally funded financial aid: awards that do not need to be paid back and awards that do need to be repaid. The most common forms of financial aid are Pell Grants (which do not need to be paid back) and federally funded student loans (which do need to be paid back). To qualify for federal financial aid, students must enroll in a minimum of six credit hours and must maintain an acceptable GPA. Applying for scholarships is another great option, and most schools will help students find scholarships that will match their educational paths.

4. Purchase Used Textbooks When Possible

Purchasing used textbooks rather than new ones is another terrific tip for prospective college students who are looking for ways to afford college. New college textbooks can be quite pricey, especially those that are hardbacks. But the good news is that many colleges offer the option of renting books or purchasing used books. These options can help students save a significant amount of money. In some cases, students may also be able to find used textbooks from other college students or listed for sale on various classified advertisement platforms. Another option is to consider using e-books. E-books are typically half the cost of textbooks and are great for students who do not mind reading their material online.

5. Consider Work Study Programs or Part-Time Employment

Another fantastic way to help afford the costs of college is to consider applying for a work-study program or a part-time job. When applying for federally funded financial aid, students will be given the option for signing up for work study programs. If they are approved for financial aid, a financial aid officer will notify them of their work study options. If this is not possible, part-time employment can help with some of the costs of college. In either case, students will want to make sure that they manage their time wisely so that their work time and study time do not clash.


The various costs of college can seem quite overwhelming, especially to first-year students. But there are many valuable tips for affording college costs, and some of the best tips are described above.

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