4) Hunt for scholarships like bears hunt for honey! I have been surprised to learn how many scholarships are available—and, how many go unclaimed each year! I like to see young people apply for every scholarship they can find. Check with the college, scour the internet, visit your local bookstore, and talk with your minister about scholarships for religious studies.

5) Take some of the basic college courses early at a local junior college. Some students have found that they can save a lot of money (compared to costs at more expensive private colleges and universities) by taking some of the required courses at hometown junior colleges during their senior year in high school, or during the summer after graduation. This has been a real cost saver in our family.

6) CLEP out of as many courses as you can. Many colleges allow students to take special tests to see if they understand course work well enough to be credited for, or CLEP, out of those classes. By clepping out of one 3-hour course in a college that charges $400 per semester hour a student can save $1,200 of tuition costs plus books! Also, this can help a student get out of college a little faster.   

7) Consider starting college a year later. This has helped lots of young people save (instead of borrowing) money for there college education. In some situations, this is especially helpful in that it gives the young person another year to mature and prepare for the college experience.

8)  Stay at home—save the cash. You may have heard the old story about the boy that wrote his father from college, “No mon, no fun, your son.”

To which his dad wrote back, “Too bad, so sad, your dad.”

Sometimes the hard facts of life close in on a young person. This happened with our oldest daughter. Megan saved money for college—but, not enough. Later, when I asked her why she hadn’t planned better, she said, “Well, Daddy, college seemed so far away—I guess I never thought I’d live to be that old.”

If you have a son or daughter who lives in the moment like our Megan does, you have a real blessing. But, on a practical level, there can be problems—like reaching college age without enough cash! There is no disgrace in finding a college nearby so you can sleep in your own bed at night. (In many cases this can save well over $6,000 per year!)

9) Don’t buy the largest meal plan. Some colleges offer various meal plans with their room and board offerings. We have found that kids usually won’t eat 21 meals a week in the school cafeteria. You may find that you can save some serious dollars by purchasing a smaller meal plan that allows for 10 to 15 meals weekly.

10) Get a job. There is no disgrace in working your way through school. Personally, I never let school get in the way of the education I got from various jobs during my college years. During those four years (while carrying a full college load) I had some of the most meaningful work experiences of my life. I worked everywhere and did a little bit of everything. Among other things, I worked as a disc jockey at two radio stations, booked shows, started a wedding photography business, ran a small record label, worked at J.C. Penney, helped manage the college diner, started a radio jingle production company and an ad agency in my dorm room. All in all, I learned about as much (if not more) from my extra jobs than I did at school. 

11) Make schools compete for you. There are a lot of colleges out there—and, their survival is preconditioned on them getting a certain number of freshmen students enrolled each fall. Competition is stiff. If you have made good grades—then lots of good schools will probably want you on their campuses. So, why not let them compete to get you?