Last-minute and alternative money-saving strategies
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Still, at many of these schools, room and board is not included in the subsidized package. At Berea, the amount a student pays for room and board is determined by financial need. At Cooper Union in New York City, where students enjoy full-tuition scholarships, dorm living for the 20042005 school year is about $13,000and only freshman can live on campus. Upperclassmen have to find housing off campus.
You know, you know. Your family should have started socking away money for college years ago. But what with car payments, day care, doctor bills, and everything else, there just never seemed to be much left over. So like the vast majority of families preparing to send a member off to college, you and your parents don't have anywhere near enough saved. Don't despair. Millions of no-savings-account students have managed to earn degrees.
Prepay or stretch out payments
It can be very hard to come up with one big lump sum to pay for college, whether it's $10,000 or $40,000. That's why almost every college allows the bill to be paid in monthly installments. There's usually no interest, but schools typically charge a $25 to $50 fee.
Some schools make avoiding inflation painless. The Art Institute of Philadelphia and George Washington University in Washington, D.C., for example, allow students to lock in the first year's tuition rate for all four years to avoid any future price hikes.
At some schools, if you have extra cash, you are likely to save money in the long run if you can prepay future years' tuition. The Independent 529 Plan, offered by some 250 private schools (including Baylor University, Spelman College, and Wesleyan University), lets parents pay up to four years' of tuition at slightly less than today's rates, as long as they pay at least three years ahead of time. So even if the student is an entering freshman, the family could save about $4,000 if private school tuition keeps rising at today's 6 percent annual rate. A caveat: There's a penalty for withdrawing the money if, say, the student drops out before senior year.
Skip a class or two
Thousands of schools give credit for passing tests such as the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) or Dantes Subject Standardized Tests (DSSTs). For less than a $100 testing fee, a student can get credit for a college course without having to take it, thus saving tuition.
CLEP tests (www.collegeboard.com/clep), which are produced by the College Board, can replace 35 courses ranging from Calculus to Spanish. The tests cost $55 to $80 each, depending on location, and are accepted by 2,900 accredited colleges. The College Board sends the results to one school of the student's choice for free, but charges $20 for each extra report sent out.
DSSTs (www.getcollegecredit.com) are accepted at 1,900 schools and cost $60. That amount includes the cost of sending the score to one school; additional copies are $20 each. There are 37 different DSSTs, many of which cover introductory college courses. But some DSSTs can replace career-oriented courses such as Criminal Justice and upper-level courses such as the Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union.