Doug Schantz often sees a “deer in the headlights” look on the faces of future college students and their families who come to him for advice on paying for college.
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Tips on cutting college costs
- Step one: Fill out the FAFSA. It is the only way to qualify for federal financial aid, including the Pell Grant, which is worth up to $5,500 and does not have to be repaid. It is free to fill out the FAFSA at fafsa.ed.gov. Cedarville Financial Aid Director Kim Jenerette said states also use this form in awarding financial aid. “While the eligibility for federal grants is based upon lower income and assets, state and institutional grants are much more ‘friendly’ and money is generally left on the table as families do not believe they would qualify,” he said.
- Do your research. Jenerette recommends Fastweb.com, where you can enter information on yourself (GPA, test scores, extra-curricular activities, involvement in church and community, etc.) and gets links to possible scholarships to research. “One scholarship is for ‘left-handed athletes with asthma,’” Jenerette said. “You never know until you try.” Some scholarships are also specific to your geographic area.
- Consider transferring. Ohio students saved $46M in 2010 by transferring classes from less expensive schools. Learn more online at transfercredit.ohio.gov.
If you pay for it, use it. Full-time students at universities typically pay a flat rate for tuition whether they take 12 or 19 credit hours, said Doug Schantz, founder of CheapScholar.org. Taking 19 credit hours can help you shave off a semester, which saves you tuition and living expenses and helps you enter the workforce sooner. Also, measure that meal plan you need so you are not eating out and paying for meals on campus.
- Get a part-time job on campus. “You can earn approximately $6,100 throughout the year and it will not affect eligibility when completing the FAFSA,”Jenerette said. Schantz said that could include being an resident advisor, which typically covers the cost of housing and could include a stipend.
Take summer classes. Some schools, Wittenberg included, offer cheaper tuition on summer courses, Schantz said. On-camps housing and food costs are also reduced, he said.
- Study your budget. Use your campus ID card for discounts. Get rid of your car if you don’t need to cut gas, insurance and parking from your budget. Save 60 percent on textbooks by renting through sites such as bookrenter.com, Schantz said.
Covering our schools
This story is part of the newspaper’s ongoing coverage of education as students return to school for the new academic year.