According to the College Board, the average cost per year of in-state tuition (including books, room and board) is $15,000. Multiply that by the four years you're in school, and you're looking at $60,000 in loans when you graduate. The average student graduates with a total debt load around $29,000 (CNN Money). With the average college graduate starting salary at $45,000, that's a good chunk of debt on your plate. The 4 benefits of getting your bachelor's degree include having a higher earnings potential, better resistance to the economy, having a sense of personal achievement and the ability to attend school on campus or online. Here are a few ways you can save money while getting your college degree.
Look for scholarships The Department of Education awards $46 billion in scholarships each year - it's just up to you to find them. There are scholarships for each individual major, single parents, those with high GPA's, those in the military, and more. It does take time and energy to find the right scholarships for you and apply for them, but in the long run it can save you thousands of dollars per year.
Get a part-time job Unless you're in medical or law school, there's a good chance you can work part-time while in school. Consider working on campus, at a restaurant, at a coffee shop or as a nanny. All of these jobs have flexible hours and are usually willing to work with your school schedule. Another option is to work from home. The freelance industry is booming, with one in five Americans now working from home. You can be a writer, an editor, a graphic designer or even a tutor - all from the comfort of your living room.
Only borrow what's necessary Colleges are willing to lend out much more money than it costs to actually attend the school. While it may seem nice at the time, it will be a nothing but a burden when it comes time to pay back those hefty loans. Borrow the bare minimum that you need (tuition and books only, for example) and work to pay for the rest of your expenses. You may have to live in a tiny apartment, only eat out once a month and skip happy hours with your friends, but it beats drowning in debt when you're graduated.
Go to a smaller, less expensive school A degree is a degree, and in the grand scheme of things it won't matter if you attended an Ivy League school or a lesser-known online university.
Community colleges are actually a great way to knock out the first two years of your degree. Tuition is much less expensive and classes are available at night and even online, which is perfect for accommodating your work schedule.
You can also get degrees fully online now at nationwide online schools. Though tuition is typically the same as if you were to attend on-campus, you can work full time and fit school into your life.
About the Author: Sarah Brooks writes on a variety of topics including personal finance, small businesses, careers and travel.