This blog originally appeared on PrepExpert.com.
Every student attending college and every parent of a future college student worries about the same thing: the bill. Thankfully, there are plenty of college tuition tips you can use to lower the total cost of school.
Use these five easy tuition tips to make going to college less expensive.
Related: 6 Ways to Reduce the Cost of College
Take Advanced Placement (AP) classes
A common method students use to reduce tuition costs is by taking AP classes in high school. The benefits of doing so include:
- Getting you ready for college-level coursework
- Earning transferrable credits
The key to earning those credits is taking and scoring well on the corresponding AP exams. If you put in the hard work and score well, those AP credits will eliminate the need to take various classes early on in college. By skipping those classes, you’ll save money by not having to pay for them.
Apply for grants and scholarships
While in high school, two of the best money options available for paying college tuition are grants and scholarships.
This “free money” is valuable to every student because, unlike loans, it doesn’t have to be paid back. The more grant and scholarship money you can secure, the less need you’ll have for federal loans.
What’s even better is that you can keep looking for free money while you’re in college; there’s no specific cutoff for the process itself. Keep hunting for funds, even if you’re only a year or two away from graduation.
Places to look for this money include:
- Nonprofit organizations
- Honor societies
- And sites like CollegeXpress
Related: How to Start Your Scholarship Search
Don’t pay with credit cards
It’s tempting to put everything on a card during college. The credit card companies count on that temptation. However, you will only put yourself into debt and be hit with ridiculously high interest rates and other fees.
Don’t be afraid to use a credit card for minor purchases to build a credit history or in the case of an emergency. Outside of that, keep within your borrowing limit and don’t slap tuition bills on them.
Consider CLEP exams
CLEP (College-Level Examination Program) offers 34 specific exams in various subjects. The idea is that these exams cover many intro-level college course credits.
If you take one of these exams and pass it, you’ve basically tested out of having to take the corresponding college course. If you pass a CLEP exam, you can earn at least three college credits at nearly 3,000 corresponding schools.
The more credits you can earn before entering college, the less you’ll have to ultimately pay. It’s a win-win situation, especially for subjects you’re already well versed in.
Consider community college
Community college is a cost-effective way of earning intro-level credits for a significantly lower price. Many students will complete their first two years at a community college to get those prerequisites. If you want to get into your dream school but don’t want to pay dream school tuition, community college is a great way to shrink that bill.