Four Ways to Shrink College Costs in a Recession

The double whammy of the recession and the stock market implosion is making the college matchmaking ritual even more tense.

Is there anybody out there who is in better shape to pay for college today than a few months ago?

I didn’t think so.

Ways still remain to shrink the cost of college, but you have to toss aside at least one ingrained behavior that often makes paying for college far more expensive. Here are four cost-cutting strategies:

No. 1: Forget Reach Schools.

Colleges are more likely to award your child a nice financial aid package or merit award (for those who don’t qualify for need-based aid) if he or she is in the top quarter or third of the applicants or if they have a special talent. When teenagers apply to “reach schools” and barely get in, it’s very likely the institutions will give them nothing or hand them packages filled with loans.

No. 2:  Apply early.

When teenagers procrastinate it’s likely that the grants (free money) will run out before the application deadline. If your child is a high school senior and is applying to a selective school, you can fill out the PROFILE already. You should complete the FAFSA right after Jan. 1.

No. 3: Use the Common Data Set.

This is a great tool to pinpoint generous schools that I talk about in my book The College Solution. To learn more about using the College Data Set read one of my earlier blogs.

No. 4: Check out this blog:

You’ll get more ideas from reading the U.S. News & World Report’s blog on paying for college in a bad economy.

Discover dozens of ways to cut the cost of college by reading The College Solution.

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