10 Unusual Ways to Save for College



Attending college is a useful step for many who want to pursue professional careers. Studies show that those with a college degree will make $2.1 million vs those who don’t over their lifetimes. However, paying for college is no simple feat. With student loan debt at an all-time for recent college graduates, finding alternatives to save on the cost of college is a common goal. While attending a state school, applying for scholarships and grants, or having parents who began a 529 plan shortly after you were born are great options, here are 10 ways to save for college that may not have appeared on your radar yet.

  1. Start taking college courses in high school. If possible, take AP classes in high school and apply those credits while in college. Those classes – if fees are involved – will be a fraction of the cost of a course on a college campus.
  2. Additionally, consider taking community college courses during the summer of your high school years. Even if you haven’t identified a major, general education courses will be helpful in any college degree.
  3. Online textbooks. Books are a major expense for any college degree. Save money and trees by opting for online versions of your textbooks where appropriate.
  4. Save money on supplies. Order your supplies online or select basic options. Off name brand items work just as well. Advance planning to allow for shipping times can save over shopping in brick and mortar stores.
  5. Use your student discount. Ask. Ask. Ask. Often student discounts exists but are not posted. Inquire before making a purchase whether student discounts apply.
  6. Stay focused on school. Extending your time in school either by repeating courses or taking a lighter load and partying more will dramatically increase your costs for college. Buckling down and going through school either on time or at an accelerated pace will keep more money in your pocket.
  7. Test out of classes. Most of your general education classes offer an option to test out. The easy A can be tempting, but testing out will reduce the overall time needed to graduate and eliminate courses and any affiliated expenses.
  8. Attend a work college. These schools allow students to work part-time in exchange for eliminating or dramatically reducing the overall tuition.
  9. Consider attending college overseas. Some countries such as Germany make college available tuition-free for all, including Americans.
  10. Study in high need fields. Some schools will pay to attract students into certain programs. The Providence Scholars Program at the University of Portland will pay a portion of your tuition in exchange for a service agreement after graduation.


A little creativity can go a long way in saving money on the cost to attend college. Again, the common strategies like attending a community college, applying for grants and scholarships, or staying in state are valid cost saving measures. However, as we’ve shown above, there are practical alternatives that can be just as effective if you’re willing to think outside of the box a little more. Pursue your education in a way that allows you to maximize your future earning potential without saddling yourself – unnecessarily – with student loan debt.



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