It is no surprise that putting kids through college can cost an arm and a leg. Many parents are faced with the dilemma of trying to find a way to pay for their kids’ college education while also putting themselves in a position to retire in the near future. Some parents have multiple kids that they need to put through college at the same time, which can compound this financial dilemma.
The prospect of going into debt this late in your life to put your kids through college can seem daunting, and it may prevent you from meeting your own goals for the future. There are a number of different strategies you and your child can employ to pay for college without you having to pay a dime towards their education expense. Consider these strategies:
1. AP Credit
Many high schools today offer AP, or Advanced Placement, courses. These courses provide kids with a college-level education on the course material while also providing them with credit towards high school graduation. After completing a full AP course, students are then eligible to sign up for and take an AP exam. By earning a good score on the AP exam, students can earn college credit. Typically, a single AP exam may provide up to three credit hours. Many high schools allow students to start taking AP courses in their sophomore year, which provides students with ample opportunity to earn a significant amount of college credit before they even graduate high school.
2. CLEP Exams
If your student’s high school career is almost over or has already ended, and he or she hasn’t benefited from credit available through AP exams, your student may still be able to earn credit through CLEP exams. CLEP exams allow students to study independently on various different course topics, and then take an exam when they feel they are knowledgeable of the course material. There is a small cost associated with these courses, as there is with AP exams. However, the fee is nominal compared to the cost of taking a college course. In fact, it is affordable enough for students to pay for on their own from money earned in their part-time job.
3. Community College Courses
Community college is far more affordable to pay for than major colleges and universities are. Many students today are taking their lower-level college courses at a community college, and then transferring that credit to the school they wish to graduate form. Students can live at home and pay for their own community college courses, either through student loans or from their part-time job income.
There are a very large number of scholarships and grants that your child may apply for. These scholarships and grants equate to free money for college. While some scholarships and grants are based on academic performance, others are available to students based on need, based on community service projects they have participated in, based on ethnicity and more.
5. Student Loans
Many students will be able to earn a significant number of credit hours through these efforts. However, most students will need some financial assistance to pay for at least a portion of their college education. Student loans are available through the federal government as well as private lending institutions. You can help your child research student loan APR interest rates and ensure that the loans are taken out in your student’s own name.
While you may encourage your children to earn a college degree, you don’t have to pay for it yourself. These strategies may enable your child to pay for his or her entire college education without your financial assistance.