ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Fund College if You’re not Rich

Updated on July 12, 2016

Next to the purchase of a home or retirement, college costs are the highest expenditure families will face. Increases in college tuition outpace inflation year after year. There are ways to combat this but families must be resourceful.

Saving in advance is the solution most people think of, but can't implement. Many families make the mistake of attempting to fund their child's college education with savings while woefully neglecting their retirement savings. As the old saying goes, nobody will loan you money for retirement but college loans abound! Skip the 529 account unless you are actively putting 20% of your gross income away each year for retirement.

Applying for scholarships is always a good idea but be aware of their scarcity. Scholarships as a form of college aid are becoming few and far between. Most college aid now comes in the form of loans so be prepared to borrow for a portion of the expense. Your goal is to minimize the amount needed to borrow.

Several strategies can save money but stick with ones that will have the largest impact on the numbers.

If you child is academically sound, have him/her take College Level Exams (CLEP Exams) for as little as $65 plus a nominal testing fee and they will receive college credit for the class if they pass. These tests can be taken while in high school. Check out the limits with your child's prospective school to make sure they'll receive credit for the exams. If the school takes five classes, that's one semester of tuition you won't have to foot the bill for.

In some colleges, this is worth almost $20,000 of tuition expense. CLEP study guides are available in used form on used book sites and new ones even available for purchase for as little as $35. Compared to some textbook costs of upwards of $150, this option will save you even more money. More information on CLEP can be found by visiting the collegeboard website at Your child could even graduate early and get a jump start on the job market ahead of those May graduates!

If your child is considering a part-time job, have them seek one at the college they will be attending. Some colleges offer reduced tuition for students employed at the college. Even a 20% discount on tuition would make a huge dent in the bill. Other part time work at school could consist of tutoring or proofreading papers for other students.

A job with an outside employer who offers tuition reimbursement is also something to consider. There is nothing better than having somebody else foot the bill while earning money at the same time.

If a career change is in order for mom or dad and the college is close to home, consider a job opening at the college. Many full time employees at colleges receive free tuition for their dependents, saving the bulk of the cost of an education.

Consider having your student attend a local community or state college for the first two years then transfer to the college of their choice. This will require some advanced preparation to ensure that all credits will transfer but is well worth the savings. Community and state colleges in some areas can have tuition at half the cost of private school tuition. Two years of state school could in effect save a whole year of private school tuition. In the end, their resume will list a degree from the college they attend for their last two years.

If the college is close to home, consider having your child live at home and commute, saving on dormitory costs. Although the benefit of living on their own won't be realized right away, the benefit of reduced student loans will benefit them later.

Lastly, if you child does go off to school, be sure they are well versed in the mechanics and pitfalls of credit cards. Many college students are heavily marketed at school from various credit card companies who have a presence on campus. Many come out with more than student loans to saddle their future earnings.

Whatever strategy you employ, be realistic and minimize costs where possible. Every bit counts when a college education bill is at stake!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • nipster profile image


      2 years ago

      I like this article. I wish someone had told me this six years ago when I was preparing to go into college.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)