Author Topic: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down  (Read 14148 times)

YoungAndWise

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College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« on: April 05, 2012, 07:56:33 PM »
Okay hell fellow mustachians I have question about college cost and how to cut it down to size.
The reason why is simple: no college debt equals more time saving and investing towards Financial Independence.


Just some potentialy useful information:

Plan on going to Sam Houston State College- Has a great looking campus, frugal decision for a someone wanting a bachelor of science in criminal justice with a major in forensic chemistry.

Semester Cost: Average of $7,086 with 12 hours
(According to calculations classes cost $248.33 each)

Four semesters: $28,344 without scholarships. Relatively cheap compared to others.

Top 5% of class in high school.-Easier for scholarships

Father has disability social security-Easier getting scholarships.

Taking dual credit courses in high schools.-Less time needed for associates

Plan on getting associates at local community college.- Half of a bachelors

Of money coming in from social security I'll $7,200 saved up for college.-A semester right there.

Currently a junior in high school.- Time to get the quick draw on scholarships.

And basically that is what I think is important off the top of my head. I am willing to answer other questions and willing to listen to any advice.

nolajo

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2012, 08:59:43 PM »
It sounds like you've got a pretty good grip on the outright ways to save money. Anything you're eligible for, milk. Make sure you get the FAFSA done in time (some awards are somewhat limited at certain schools, so getting it in early is essential).

The other thing I would point out is to avoid some of the pitfalls of the community college. I know cc's in some states are better than others, but I have a number of friends that got caught in cc nonsense for years (not in Texas - I have no direct experience with their system). Since you know what you want to study going in, you may be in better shape, but stay on top of Sam Houston's requirements, not just the cc's. Be sure to verify every course you take and it's transferability both to the university and to the program you want to be in. Check whether it will transfer as an elective or as the actual core requirement and don't trust the counselors at the cc without verifying it yourself. Unfortunately, plenty of courses that seem basic enough won't be counted as a core requirement and the standards and requirements can change. That can cost you a lot of time and money in extra semesters. If there's a cc that has an approved, affiliated program to place students at Sam Houston, that would be worth going to, if only to help smooth some of the aforementioned transfer issues.

Anyways, good luck!

YoungAndWise

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2012, 09:02:16 PM »
It sounds like you've got a pretty good grip on the outright ways to save money. Anything you're eligible for, milk. Make sure you get the FAFSA done in time (some awards are somewhat limited at certain schools, so getting it in early is essential).

The other thing I would point out is to avoid some of the pitfalls of the community college. I know cc's in some states are better than others, but I have a number of friends that got caught in cc nonsense for years (not in Texas - I have no direct experience with their system). Since you know what you want to study going in, you may be in better shape, but stay on top of Sam Houston's requirements, not just the cc's. Be sure to verify every course you take and it's transferability both to the university and to the program you want to be in. Check whether it will transfer as an elective or as the actual core requirement and don't trust the counselors at the cc without verifying it yourself. Unfortunately, plenty of courses that seem basic enough won't be counted as a core requirement and the standards and requirements can change. That can cost you a lot of time and money in extra semesters. If there's a cc that has an approved, affiliated program to place students at Sam Houston, that would be worth going to, if only to help smooth some of the aforementioned transfer issues.

Anyways, good luck!

Actually if I complete my associates Sam Houston has to accept it according to law. Came into effect 4 to 5 years ago.

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2012, 09:08:42 PM »
Like Nalajo said, you already covered everything in your initial post.  If you just needed confirmation: you got it.

And its super awesome that you are even on a MMM board as a junior in High School.
I think if most of us on here were thinking like this when we were 17, we would all be retired by now.
I know I would!

shedinator

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2012, 10:32:42 PM »
It's been several years (8 of them) since I was applying for colleges and the like, but at that time, it was MUCH harder for transfer students to get scholarships. The majority of scholarships have language in them somewhere which state they're intended for entering freshmen. At the same time, it's much easier to be awarded an associate's and complete a bachelor's than to complete 60 credits and hope they'll all transfer. I would suggest you apply as a freshman, and delay having your associate's conferred until you have a firm grasp of which scholarships you've been awarded, whether they're renewable, and if they're reserved for freshmen. If you have full tuition covered, and it's renewable up to 4 years, transfer in as many of the credits as you can. If you just have a smattering of scholarships not reserved for  freshmen, take the associate's and don't bother with the credit transfer process. Hmmm, that looks confusing to me, and I know what I'm saying. Hopefully you can make sense of it.

YoungAndWise

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2012, 09:26:39 AM »
I understand what you are saying. Make sure I don't do my associates without making sure I will be missing scholarships.

nolajo

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2012, 09:35:48 AM »


Actually if I complete my associates Sam Houston has to accept it according to law. Came into effect 4 to 5 years ago.

That's good to hear that they have to accept it - my friends were not so fortunate and some are still in school years after I finished a BA. I would still double-check however that they have to accept the credits as what they are (Math 101 at the cc fulfills your math requirement at Sam Houston, for instance) because some of the schools I've know of will insist that they only count as electives. This would be doubly important if you take Shedinator's advice about going in as technically a freshman. I'm not sure that process would actually work though, because most university applications make you list where you've attended and what you've taken. You could miss out on transferring anything if you don't do it then.

If all that checks out, awesome. Just make sure you're proactive and in communication with Sam Houston, and you should be alright.

onehappypanda

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2012, 10:01:08 AM »
It sounds like you've got a pretty good grip on the outright ways to save money. Anything you're eligible for, milk. Make sure you get the FAFSA done in time (some awards are somewhat limited at certain schools, so getting it in early is essential).

The other thing I would point out is to avoid some of the pitfalls of the community college. I know cc's in some states are better than others, but I have a number of friends that got caught in cc nonsense for years (not in Texas - I have no direct experience with their system). Since you know what you want to study going in, you may be in better shape, but stay on top of Sam Houston's requirements, not just the cc's. Be sure to verify every course you take and it's transferability both to the university and to the program you want to be in. Check whether it will transfer as an elective or as the actual core requirement and don't trust the counselors at the cc without verifying it yourself. Unfortunately, plenty of courses that seem basic enough won't be counted as a core requirement and the standards and requirements can change. That can cost you a lot of time and money in extra semesters. If there's a cc that has an approved, affiliated program to place students at Sam Houston, that would be worth going to, if only to help smooth some of the aforementioned transfer issues.

Anyways, good luck!

Actually if I complete my associates Sam Houston has to accept it according to law. Came into effect 4 to 5 years ago.

They have to accept the associates, but often not the individual credits. They'll recognize them as an elective but still make you repeat their version of the course requirements. Many students still find themselves taking repeat classes because the 4-year university won't recognize individual course credits from their CC as anything but an elective. It's how all the CC graduates (with associates) that I know ended up taking 5-7 years of courses instead of just 4.

Since you're still a junior, and it sounds like you have pretty high academic achievement, I wouldn't rule out a 4-year university. It's at least worth it to apply and see what scholarships you qualify for, since you sound like you're both smart and low-income (which is the best combination for scholarships and aid- speaking from personal experience). The "sticker price" of a university can be completely irrelevant once you've looked into the financial aid and merit-based scholarships offered, and many community college transfers will not qualify for the same financial aid. Many universities, while more expensive, offer more aid for high achieving students. Plus you wouldn't have to deal with the hassle of a transfer. It's worth consideration.

If you haven't already taken the PSAT, I suggest you do and work your butt off to get good scores for it. PSAT is the test that National Merit scholarships are awarded for, and the National Merit scholarships will allow you to go to many universities for free or almost free. That was one of the major reasons I got through undergrad with no family help and minimal loans. If you've passed that point, there are plenty of other scholarships though.

All in all, it sounds like you're on track. But I would consider all your options, which given your presumably high academic achievement still includes looking for financial aid and merit-based scholarships at 4 year universities that would allow you to complete your degree without the hassle of a transfer. Which is definitely worth it from what I've seen- I've yet to meet a single person who went from an associates to a bachelor's without having to take at least a year's worth of extra courses. Maybe it's different where you are, but talk to some people who have actually done it (rather than admissions at the CC, who of course want you to enroll) and see what the facts are. Adding 1-3 years onto your overall schooling with fewer scholarships could actually make that plan more expensive than just going for the bachelor's right away- it's 1-3 years of lost wages + extra schooling costs. Just something to keep in mind when you're comparing options.

TLV

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2012, 10:43:09 AM »
If the college you go to accepts them, AP classes/tests can be a great way to save some money. When I finished high school (2005) an AP test cost $82, and the college I went to awarded anywhere from 6 to 15 credit hours depending on the test and the score. Some of them only counted as electives, of course; but at the college I went to, even the elective credits helped because students with more total credits were allowed to register earlier (easier to get into the classes you want).

Another thing to look at, depending on your ability to handle it, is taking more credits per semester. The college I went to charged per credit hour up to 12, but you could take up to 18 (21 with approval from your major's department) per semester at no additional cost. Not everyone can handle the extra load, especially if you also work a part time job (highly recommended!), but it may shave off a semester or two.

If you already know exactly what you want to major in, I would argue in favor of going straight to the 4-year college  unless there's a large financial incentive to do the 2-year first. One potential problem with going to the 2-year first is that many majors will have a chain of classes that must be taken in a specific order. In my case (Electrical engineering), you had to take a number of "pre-professional" courses (eg 2 each of math, physics, and programming) before applying for the major, and then you needed at least 4 more semesters after that to finish the required courses for the major (and possibly more, since some classes weren't offered every semester). By going to the 4-year, you can usually start taking major-specific classes earlier, mixed in with your general classes, and not get held back by missing prerequisites as much.

AJ

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2012, 10:57:25 AM »
In addition to AP classes, you can CLEP some of your lower level classes. Just google CLEP to see which ones. I'm not sure how much your community college tuition is, but in my neck of the woods it is way cheaper to take the CLEP exam than to take the class.

YoungAndWise

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2012, 01:32:23 PM »
@onehappypanda: I have taken the PSAT but can't seem to find my scores at the moment. However with a 1700 on the PSAT and 27 on ACT, I think I did pretty well.

Also Sam Houston has a program has a transfer program with my local community college that allows me to take electives here that transfer to Sam Houston. It is up to 66 hours if I am correct.

But one of my teachers is actually a professor at Sam Houston so I'll double check with him.

@TLV: Sam Houston does accept the AP test. And here I think it cost only $25 and you can take as many as you want so definitely cheaper. Right now signed up for english test.

@AJ: CLEP? I might do that. I already been exempt from Algebra credit since I did so well on SAT mathematics. However I am looking at biology as well. However a class after all the deductions cost $100 dollars each so mostly it would saving me time.

sol

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2012, 02:57:23 PM »
In this day and age, the very best students go to college for free. Nothing else will make as much of a difference in your college costs as a perfect SAT score. Practice.  Then apply for a ton of scholarships, in case you don't do well enough for them to come looking for you.

And they will come looking, if you do well enough. I ended up turning down a bunch of scholarships I hadn't even applied for. I graduated from one of the most expensive private colleges in the US for a total four year cost of $6k.

TLV

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #12 on: April 06, 2012, 03:17:22 PM »
@Sol - that's definitely the ideal, though most people could never get close to a perfect score no matter how much they practice. I also had perfect scores - and several of my very competitive (and very smart) friends retook the tests several times over trying to match me, even though their scores were already good enough for scholarships at their target schools, and never managed to improve significantly over their first attempts.

@YoungAndWise - Looking at Sam Houston's requirements for Criminal Justice and Forensic Chemistry, it looks like you'd be well served to try for the psychology (for criminal justice), chemistry, and physics (for forensic chemistry) AP tests as well. If your school doesn't offer the classes, don't let that stop you - you can get a college-level text book (dirt cheap if you get an old edition, and just as good) from the internet or the college bookstore, read up on your own over your senior year (including studying the free practice questions on the CollegeBoard's website http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/public/exam/exam_information/index.html), and take the tests regardless - just make sure you talk with one of the high school's guidance counselors and and have them order the test for you. I actually did that myself with all three of those subjects, so it's definitely possible. Even if you don't do well enough on the tests to get out of taking the classes in college, it will be much easier the 2nd time around.

sol

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #13 on: April 06, 2012, 03:36:15 PM »
@Sol - that's definitely the ideal, though most people could never get close to a perfect score no matter how much they practice. I also had perfect scores - and several of my very competitive (and very smart) friends retook the tests several times over trying to match me, even though their scores were already good enough for scholarships at their target schools, and never managed to improve significantly over their first attempts.


I'm not so sure. I think standardized test taking is a skill that can be learned like any other. At the very least, he can dramatically raise his score by learning all the tricks and taking all of the previous years exams.

shedinator

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #14 on: April 07, 2012, 07:10:44 AM »
This would be doubly important if you take Shedinator's advice about going in as technically a freshman. I'm not sure that process would actually work though, because most university applications make you list where you've attended and what you've taken. You could miss out on transferring anything if you don't do it then.

Generally (I don't know SHS, but I've spent a lot of time in the college atmosphere in general), courses taken while you're in HS do not DQ you from being a freshman for financial aid purposes. I knew several people who had a combination of AP, CLEP, and college courses large enough that they applied as freshman, received 4 year, renewable awards, and entered as juniors or 2nd semester sophomores. One of them was a senior by her 2nd year of college, and then took 1 undergraduate and 3 graduate courses in each of her final 5 semesters. She technically hadn't completed her UG degree, so the scholarships were still applicable so long as she was enrolled full time and making progress toward the degree. She graduated with her bachelor's and Master's at the same time, and didn't pay a dime for either.

Homeschoolers also often do much of their high school work at community colleges, and have no trouble entering 4-year programs as freshmen, often with advanced standing and huge scholarships.

Another approach is doing what I did and cramming all of your HS courses into fewer years, thereby graduating everywhere early, but YaW is already a junior, so it's probably too late to take that approach.

Nancy

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #15 on: April 07, 2012, 08:32:19 AM »
Okay hell fellow mustachians I have question about college cost and how to cut it down to size.
The reason why is simple: no college debt equals more time saving and investing towards Financial Independence.


Just some potentialy useful information:

Plan on going to Sam Houston State College- Has a great looking campus, frugal decision for a someone wanting a bachelor of science in criminal justice with a major in forensic chemistry.

Semester Cost: Average of $7,086 with 12 hours
(According to calculations classes cost $248.33 each)

Four semesters: $28,344 without scholarships. Relatively cheap compared to others.

Top 5% of class in high school.-Easier for scholarships

Father has disability social security-Easier getting scholarships.

Taking dual credit courses in high schools.-Less time needed for associates

Plan on getting associates at local community college.- Half of a bachelors

Of money coming in from social security I'll $7,200 saved up for college.-A semester right there.

Currently a junior in high school.- Time to get the quick draw on scholarships.

And basically that is what I think is important off the top of my head. I am willing to answer other questions and willing to listen to any advice.

You're doing the right thing by completing your associates at community college. Yes, you are going to have to remain vigilant about the courses you take at the community college. I recommend that you regularly contact the registrar at Sam Houston and verify that each course is transferable before you take it. (Don't just listen to your adviser at your community college. I would also recommend having email records from the Sam Houston Registrar's office saying that they will accept the courses).  Clearly, you are capable and mature enough to do this- you are already a mustachian in high school! Your AP classes should cut down on the amount of classes that you need to take at the community college, so you may not have to do four full semesters (further saving you money). Here is the link to the specific information regarding the Sam Houston/Houston Community College transfer program for criminal justice: http://www.shsu.edu/admissions/transfer/joint-admissions/degree.html?college=houston&degree=Criminal%20Justice
Make sure to constantly check if there are updates/changes.

Scholarships: A quick search of the Sam Houston website revealed that there are specific scholarships available exclusively for transfer students. If you maintain a 4.0 GPA at community college, you could potentially receive $3K. Here is the page with that information: http://www.shsu.edu/~fao_www/scholarships/transfer.html
Also, remember that you are not limited to scholarships provided by Sam Houston. There are tons of scholarships available, and I recommend you start applying now. Go to Fastweb and check out the offerings. You should pretty much just apply for every single scholarship for which you qualify.

Housing: If you live at home during at least your first two years, you should save substantial money.

Last note: Continue to ask questions and investigate alternatives, but be wary of the people giving the answers.
1.) Don't trust the opinions of people on Internet forums (including me!). People love to share their ideas of what they believe to be the most excellent way to do things, but these ideas may not be relevant to you, and they most likely are not based on evidence derived from research.
2.) Consider if the person you are asking has something to gain from the information he/she provides. For example, the adviser at a community college wants you to take as many courses as possible at his/her institution. This may seem difficult, but it's really not. I know many people who have successfully transferred from community colleges to four-year institutions, and I'm helping my younger sister do this exact same thing in California. You just need to be organized and determined. Good luck!
« Last Edit: April 07, 2012, 08:35:05 AM by Nancy »

judgemebymyusername

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #16 on: April 07, 2012, 10:39:26 AM »

Semester Cost: Average of $7,086 with 12 hours
(According to calculations classes cost $248.33 each)

Four semesters: $28,344 without scholarships. Relatively cheap compared to others.

I think your numbers are off. According to http://www.shsu.edu/catalog/tuitionandfees.html your tuition is right around $3300 a semester for 15 credit hours. I don't recommend doing less than 15 a semester. Depending on where you live you could live at home while attending college to cut living expenses, or just find 2-3 roommates and split a house.

YoungAndWise

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #17 on: April 07, 2012, 03:44:56 PM »
@b: $2988 with 12 hours. $500 for books (average).  $1500 for meal plan (average). $2100 Residence Halls (average).
Can't live at home while attending Sam Houston-2 hour drive between their and home, too much gas and time wasted. Roommates are a maybe if I can two or three friends.

Grigory

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #18 on: April 07, 2012, 04:39:07 PM »
$2100 Residence Halls (average).
Assuming that each semester is about four months long (the summer semester is separate and there are no classes during the winter break), you'll be paying $525 a month for room and board!!! O_o And because of all the dorm rules, you won't be able to do any fun stuff... Well, at the very least your ability to have fun will be rather limited. Look around on craigslist - you can rent a room in an apartment/house/wherever with a few other students for as low as $250-300 a month.

Also, when it comes to scholarships, make sure to concentrate on local, lesser-known scholarships first. Everyone applies for the big national scholarships, but the smaller ones get a lot less traffic, which means your chances of winning them will be much higher.

Edited to add: And FAFSA - don't forget about FAFSA! File it as early as you can the year you'll apply to college. I think the earliest you can apply is February 1. The sooner you apply and send the results to your future college, the bigger share of scholarship money you'll get. It doesn't matter if your parents make over $100,000 a year - I've never heard of anybody who filled out FAFSA and didn't get any money as a result.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2012, 04:41:39 PM by Grigory »

sol

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #19 on: April 07, 2012, 05:36:43 PM »
And because of all the dorm rules, you won't be able to do any fun stuff... Well, at the very least your ability to have fun will be rather limited.

Funny, my memory of dorm life suggests otherwise.  Sure, we couldn't remodel much, but the unlimited access to drugs and sex was more than fair compensation.

Grigory

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #20 on: April 07, 2012, 06:00:02 PM »
And because of all the dorm rules, you won't be able to do any fun stuff... Well, at the very least your ability to have fun will be rather limited.

Funny, my memory of dorm life suggests otherwise.  Sure, we couldn't remodel much, but the unlimited access to drugs and sex was more than fair compensation.
Depends on the college, I guess - but why risk it? ;) At my alma mater (University of Nevada, Reno) there was no smoking allowed, drinking was strictly discouraged, and one guy got kicked out of his dorm for a water balloon fight. :(

YoungAndWise

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #21 on: April 07, 2012, 09:34:07 PM »
Well college dorm costs can be lowered to $1592 so that will lower cost a lot. But I'll ask my teacher how crazy it can get there.

nolajo

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #22 on: April 08, 2012, 09:53:55 PM »
This would be doubly important if you take Shedinator's advice about going in as technically a freshman. I'm not sure that process would actually work though, because most university applications make you list where you've attended and what you've taken. You could miss out on transferring anything if you don't do it then.

Generally (I don't know SHS, but I've spent a lot of time in the college atmosphere in general), courses taken while you're in HS do not DQ you from being a freshman for financial aid purposes. I knew several people who had a combination of AP, CLEP, and college courses large enough that they applied as freshman, received 4 year, renewable awards, and entered as juniors or 2nd semester sophomores. One of them was a senior by her 2nd year of college, and then took 1 undergraduate and 3 graduate courses in each of her final 5 semesters. She technically hadn't completed her UG degree, so the scholarships were still applicable so long as she was enrolled full time and making progress toward the degree. She graduated with her bachelor's and Master's at the same time, and didn't pay a dime for either.

Homeschoolers also often do much of their high school work at community colleges, and have no trouble entering 4-year programs as freshmen, often with advanced standing and huge scholarships.

Another approach is doing what I did and cramming all of your HS courses into fewer years, thereby graduating everywhere early, but YaW is already a junior, so it's probably too late to take that approach.

Ah, I misunderstood you. I thought you were advising that he do a couple years at a cc and then try to go in as a freshman. Going in with credits earned in high school is totally different and absolutely worth it. Just being able to register earlier than the other people in your year can go a long way to keeping you on track when seats are limited and courses have to be taken in particular orders. If you can knock out 3 to 6 meaningful/required credits for the cost of each AP test, so much the better.

Parizade

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #23 on: April 09, 2012, 06:05:00 AM »
Have you considered getting a job at Sam Houston? It looks like they provide employee scholarships.
Not only would your education be free, you would actually be earning money while in college. You could graduate with a 'stache instead of student loan debt.

Grigory

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #24 on: April 09, 2012, 07:11:45 AM »
Actually, the best job for a college student is dorm RA (resident assistant). You get free room&board, assistance with tuition and you even get a small paycheck once in a while. The only major downside is that you'd have to look after ~20 dorm residents and may not be able to go out a lot. As far as I know, freshmen can't get those jobs, since they require a few months of training, but if you apply for one during your first year, you'll be able to save a fortune over the next three years! :^D

arebelspy

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #25 on: April 09, 2012, 08:14:27 AM »
One of the most money-wise jobs.  Not sure if it's the best.

We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

nolajo

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #26 on: April 09, 2012, 04:28:57 PM »
Actually, the best job for a college student is dorm RA (resident assistant). You get free room&board, assistance with tuition and you even get a small paycheck once in a while. The only major downside is that you'd have to look after ~20 dorm residents and may not be able to go out a lot. As far as I know, freshmen can't get those jobs, since they require a few months of training, but if you apply for one during your first year, you'll be able to save a fortune over the next three years! :^D

Yeah, babysitting college students can get old fast (similar frequent middle of the night issues, but minus the ability to actually pick them up and put them in a crib, plus lots of intoxication. In some cases similar amounts of bodily fluids everywhere, but there's no reason to pull out all the horror stories just yet). That said, it can be a really good gig and there's no reason you can't do it in conjunction with a lot of the other suggestions here. Nor is there any reason you can't stop doing it after a year if it's really not your thing.

YoungAndWise

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #27 on: April 09, 2012, 06:51:01 PM »
Is there any other job besides Dorm RA that are good?

sol

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #28 on: April 09, 2012, 08:08:27 PM »
Is there any other job besides Dorm RA that are good?

What are you going to study?

The traditional advice is to get a job doing whatever your studies are supposedly training you to do.  Help pad the resume for when graduate time comes and you need capitalize on your investment in education.

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #29 on: April 09, 2012, 08:24:27 PM »
Is there any other job besides Dorm RA that are good?
What do you want out of a job? If you want quick cash and free food, become a pizza delivery boy or a waiter. (Those tips can really add up!) If you want a low-paying but incredibly easy job, get one on campus: for example, if you work at the library, you'll essentially be paid for doing your homework, unless there's a huge line of people who want to check out/return books.

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #30 on: April 09, 2012, 10:02:28 PM »
@sol: Criminal Investigator or Lab Tech Specialist. Considering the campus is only a hundred yards away from a prison it would be easy to get a job there. However there is program that allows you to have intership at a police agency in your junior year and earn college credit.

@grigory: Library job? Sounds like my type of job actually. Peace, quiet, easy to study, and no distractions.


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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #31 on: April 09, 2012, 10:14:28 PM »
Federal work-study jobs, as they're called, are actually one of the forms of aid you may be eligible for. The long and the short of it is that you get an award that you have to work for a bit - say $2000 a year. A department on campus (and select others off campus) can hire you, often for some light clerical work or such and you typically get a lot of time to do your homework. Sometimes you can get lucky and find a professor that has a bit of funding and is doing work that you can help with which is great CV stuff. They only chip in 25% of your salary and the rest comes from that award, which means that you're an attractive job candidate as you cost the department/professor a quarter of a student without work-study.

Also, there's no reason you couldn't do that and another job at the same time (such as be an RA or even another job off campus).

Sunflower

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #32 on: April 09, 2012, 11:00:55 PM »
I agree with everyone that has said you should do all of the fafsa paperwork. But be aware of the fact that any scholarships you get are usually counted against whatever 'aid' the fafsa determines you deserve. For me, it would have been silly to waste my time applying to scholarships that paid $1000-$5000 since my (private) school would have just lowered the amount they gave me in financial aid/work-study as determined by my fafsa 'need'.

trammatic

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #33 on: April 10, 2012, 05:49:25 AM »
CLEP tests and AP tests are usually mentioned together, but they are miles apart in terms of difficulty.  AP tests are MUCH harder than CLEPs.  A few years into my professional career (as an actuary), my employer required me to take a list of "core business courses".  I could CLEP them, and they were quick and easy.  Granted, early business courses are not terribly rigorous anyway, but I think I needed about 10 hours of study time to place in the 90th %-ile in Marketing.  These CLEPs can also be an easy way to hammer out electives.  I graduated with a BS in math 2 years after finishing high school...with the help of 30 CLEP credits.  1 year out of the way simply by taking a few tests.

Also, check with your high school...perhaps you can take some CC classes to satisfy your HS graduation requirements.  Back in HS, they required me to take a year of art...and being the quinissential math nerd, I sucked at art.  I looked through all of the regulations and found I could take a couple of cinema classes at the CC which both knocked out the HS requirement and got me 6 credits closer to graduation.  Night classes in the humanities at a CC are typically very easy.

My college also had a flat $6,000/semester tuition for "full time" students, which meant anywhere between 12 and 18 hours.  If yours is similar, you could really benefit from taking all of the credits you can each semester.  Given 3 hour classes, if I took 6 classes, the cost per class was $1,000, but if I only took 4, the cost was $1,500.  I took 18 or 19 hours each semester.

Also check into summer class rates...often they are cheaper.  At my college, summer classes were $200/credit, or $600/class.  So even then, I was saving 40% off of the normal year 18-hour rate.  If you're creative, you might be able to take 5 or 6 classes in the summer.  If you wanted a "summer break" each year, then maybe just take the fall semester off, and study each spring and summer.

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #34 on: April 10, 2012, 05:54:44 AM »
I put this separate to make it stand out, but the key to saving in college is reducing the time spent there.  Personally, I got my BS in 2 years. During school, I was a truck driver for FedEx, and made $100/day (or 26,000/year without vacation), not that I could work full time delivering while I was in school.  When I graduated, I got a job as an actuary and started at about $45,000/year.    So while the my HS friends finished their last two years of college, I made $90,000.  Yeah, it was hard work, and I had to bust it often...if you're looking for a Mustachian way to go, see how quick you can do it.

sol

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #35 on: April 10, 2012, 09:13:33 AM »
it would have been silly to waste my time applying to scholarships that paid $1000-$5000 since my (private) school would have just lowered the amount they gave me in financial aid/work-study as determined by my fafsa 'need'.

That's only relevant if you can't cover 100% of your costs with scholarships.  I recommend aiming high instead of expecting to fail.

So while the my HS friends finished their last two years of college, I made $90,000.

This is a great point.  Some of my friends are jealous that I went to college for four years for free and then grad school for eight years while getting paid, but most of those friends had regular jobs right out of college that put them significantly ahead of the game, at least in terms of dollars.  I will have to work about eight years at my new higher salary to break even over my peers who made less money for so much longer.  They typically resent my long term earning potential without recognizing that they frittered away their $45k/year college graduate salaries while I was living on $15k/year in grad school for all of my 20s.

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #36 on: April 12, 2012, 11:48:23 PM »
Have you considered getting a job at Sam Houston? It looks like they provide employee scholarships.
Not only would your education be free, you would actually be earning money while in college. You could graduate with a 'stache instead of student loan debt.
Many state universities actually offer this benefit; however, that's only for full (or at least 75% time) staff or faculty positions. It's really difficult to find such a position without having an "in", as most hard-to-screw-up positions are given to student workers, which are super cheap for universities - they are exempt from standard employee benefits including the tuition waiver, as well as no medicare or social security matching required, cheap wage, etc.

 
Actually, the best job for a college student is dorm RA (resident assistant). You get free room&board, assistance with tuition and you even get a small paycheck once in a while. The only major downside is that you'd have to look after ~20 dorm residents and may not be able to go out a lot. As far as I know, freshmen can't get those jobs, since they require a few months of training, but if you apply for one during your first year, you'll be able to save a fortune over the next three years! :^D
This is dependent on the university you go to. It's usually one of the higher paying student jobs, but not always. At my university, RAs get a lump sum "scholarship" at the beginning of the semester for $4000 - $2500 of which is meant to cover your dorm cost for that semester. RAs are expected to work 30 hours a week at the front desk, as well as perform their normal RA duties such as be a counselor, referee, adviser, group leader, role model, etc.  Just the front desk hours brings you down to working for less than $8.50/hr, and that's not even getting into your 24/7 job of being the first line of defense for 20+ people.

Not worth it in many cases. You can usually get a student job in a dining hall that pays roughly the same amount, without having to be always on-call, plus the possible perk of food discounts. Another option is to look for a computer lab job. Many universities staff computer labs with student workers in order to provide assistance (or really just to be a theft deterrent). They are generally higher paying, similar to a library job, and are "study jobs" that make it easy to get homework done while working.

Federal work-study jobs, as they're called, are actually one of the forms of aid you may be eligible for. The long and the short of it is that you get an award that you have to work for a bit - say $2000 a year. A department on campus (and select others off campus) can hire you, often for some light clerical work or such and you typically get a lot of time to do your homework. Sometimes you can get lucky and find a professor that has a bit of funding and is doing work that you can help with which is great CV stuff. They only chip in 25% of your salary and the rest comes from that award, which means that you're an attractive job candidate as you cost the department/professor a quarter of a student without work-study.

Also, there's no reason you couldn't do that and another job at the same time (such as be an RA or even another job off campus).
These work really well if you can do it with multiple jobs, but as a single job, there are better paying options. Federal work-study positions tend to pay minimum wage, so that they can spread the funding across as many students as possible. You also have to be very precise in keeping up with your time worked, and make sure you work the mandatory amount of hours per week for your study program; if you have a cram week you can't try to slow down on the work. Most other positions on campus, even if they only pay minimum wage like dining jobs usually do, at least come with perks or slightly more flexibility.

What do you want out of a job? If you want quick cash and free food, become a pizza delivery boy or a waiter. (Those tips can really add up!) If you want a low-paying but incredibly easy job, get one on campus: for example, if you work at the library, you'll essentially be paid for doing your homework, unless there's a huge line of people who want to check out/return books.
If you go the delivery boy or waiter route, I encourage the waiter. Do not be a delivery boy near a campus. You'll either be delivering lunch to employees, or dinner to students. Employees usually pitch in for the pizza, and the pot comes up short more often than it has a tip. So whoever actually gives you the money has to scrounge to even make the bill, let alone tip you. Students, I've learned from experience, generally don't tip the delivery guy. The only students that even know what a tip is are waiters; and they don't tip delivery guys because they believe that just driving a pizza to them isn't enough work to warrant a tip. Since most drivers work for less than minimum wage and gas is ~$4/gallon, getting stiffed a few times really eats at your money. I managed a Domino's for about a year before I came to college, so I know this fact very well.


I'm currently a sophomore in my university program, and have worked my way through 5 different departments/positions and have gone from making $8.50/hr at my first position to making $20/hr where I'm at now. With that said, here's my perspective on your situation:

1. Fill out the FAFSA, and send it to both Sam Houston and the Community College. Apply to both schools, even if you have to pay application fees (but not deposits). Find out what your financial aid package is going to be (how much your scholarships, grants, and all that add up to) at both schools, then calculate exactly what the out-of-pocket difference between the 4-year university and the 2 year cc -> 2 year university program. If it's not much, go to the university the whole time. Community Colleges don't generally have nearly as many student jobs, as well as much lower student financial aid. By being at the university longer, you'll have a stronger network there to utilize for scholarships, job opportunities, etc. Plus, after the school year starts and some students don't show up, universities then re-allocate the unused financial aid funds to the students that did show up. As a student that can show financial need (based off of your FAFSA), you'll be at the top of the list to receive the unused funds. I generally have one or two small scholarships show up on my financial aid package every year between the time the year starts and when the money is dispersed.

2. Make friends with your professors, especially professors for the department your major is from. Go to their office hours, be personable with them. They are your greatest asset. A full tenured professor has spent at least 15 years of their life there, and usually longer. Over that time, they learn which professors have excess funding that could be used for an undergrad, which professors are looking for students that might fit your skillset, stuff like that. Professors are a great source of unadvertised jobs. My current position, netting a decent $20/hr, is the result of a professor's recommendation.

3. Look for student positions in IT departments.  They're usually strapped for cash due to massive software licensing costs and constant hardware upgrades, as well as the high cost of skilled IT labor. So they hire students to take care of labor intensive acts such as help desks, computer labs, etc. Because you're usually working with computer stuff, they're more selective than other student positions. You just have to not be an idiot to get a job there, which you seem to be well above that threshold (you'd be surprised how many college students fall below it). Because they're more selective, they generally pay better wages. Two of my five positions have been with IT departments in different Colleges, and they were the highest paying until my current gig. Sam Houston is a huge state school like I go to, and therefore will have a main university IT group, but also each of the individual Colleges will usually have their own internal IT staff. Look for positions in both; especially in your major's department. They'll usually try to find funding for their own majors.

4. Make your financial need known. Especially after you've done #2, if you've become friendly with a personable professor. Monies for students with financial needs is available at all levels. You'll automatically get what you qualify for from the university itself when they prepare your financial aid package. However, the College your major is in, as well as the department your major is in, will both also have some monies available that they "give" you, rather than you automatically qualify for. Let them know your need. I now receive an $800/yr scholarship just because I happened to ask my departmental adviser if the department offered any needs-based scholarships or grants. That professor is also the reason for 2 of my 5 jobs, including the one I'm currently working for $20/hr (and will hopefully have the rest of my time at school). Your results in this will vary, but all they can say is no, there isn't anything available. But if there is, you've just earned yourself a scholarship, and if there's not, it's in the person's mind if anything comes up.



This has become a fairly long post and it's getting late here, so if any of my rambling is confusing and needs clarification let me know. But I can't stress enough the value of befriending a professor. They've spent their entire adult lives in a university; 8+ years learning, and the remainder teaching. In contrast, your "advisor" is usually a graduate student that didn't do their undergraduate work at that particular university, and full time staff employees in places such as financial aid offices are generally so overworked/overwhelmed that they don't have the ability to spend much extra time helping a single student. Professors know the system the best, and are therefore the best guides through it.

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #37 on: April 13, 2012, 12:53:06 AM »
This is dependent on the university you go to. It's usually one of the higher paying student jobs, but not always. At my university, RAs get a lump sum "scholarship" at the beginning of the semester for $4000 - $2500 of which is meant to cover your dorm cost for that semester. RAs are expected to work 30 hours a week at the front desk, as well as perform their normal RA duties such as be a counselor, referee, adviser, group leader, role model, etc.  Just the front desk hours brings you down to working for less than $8.50/hr, and that's not even getting into your 24/7 job of being the first line of defense for 20+ people.
Where did you go to school? It sounds pretty harsh... At my alma mater (University of Nevada, Reno), an RA would get a free room, meal plan, a tuition discount and a little cash in exchange for pretty much giving up their social life. (Unless they were very good at time management or managed to keep their social life confined to their dorm.)

cosmie

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #38 on: April 13, 2012, 08:34:50 AM »
University of Tennessee - Knoxville. A friend of mine did exactly what you said; she applied her freshman year, was all excited about it. Then when her sophomore year started she got hit with the reality (for her) of basically becoming a 24/7 life coach for a bunch of immature 18-20 year olds, for little pay, little privacy, and little sleep. The "perk" aspect of it is that she got a her own room for the price of a shared.

Everything at UTK is decentralized, e.g. dining services is actually contracted out to Aramark; so no one gets comped there. And they do get a tuition discount, in the form of the other $1500 nor by campus housing for their dorm room. They just don't get anything else.

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #39 on: April 13, 2012, 08:38:41 AM »
University of Tennessee - Knoxville. A friend of mine did exactly what you said; she applied her freshman year, was all excited about it. Then when her sophomore year started she got hit with the reality (for her) of basically becoming a 24/7 life coach for a bunch of immature 18-20 year olds, for little pay, little privacy, and little sleep. The "perk" aspect of it is that she got a her own room for the price of a shared.

Everything at UTK is decentralized, e.g. dining services is actually contracted out to Aramark; so no one gets comped there. And they do get a tuition discount, in the form of the other $1500 nor by campus housing for their dorm room. They just don't get anything else.

I have trouble feeling much sympathy for someone who should have known all of that going into it.  You know up front what the perks are.  You can talk to former RAs to see how they felt about it.

The fact that you signed up for something, knew exactly what you were getting into, and then didn't like it?  Well that's a mistake on your part.  Nothing more, IMO.

So I guess the lesson is: make sure you do your research on exactly what that would entail and decide before you sign up if it's really right for you.
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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #40 on: April 13, 2012, 09:42:15 AM »
She actually didn't know beforehand; campus housing restructured the pay package to what it is the year she RA'd, but after she had already signed a contract stating she'd do the job. She could have quit, but she'd have then been on the hook for the cost of her single room, which is usually ~$5,000 as well as not receive the cash scholarship. I should mention that my university is informally known among students, staff, and faculty alike as "The Big Orange Screw".

But you're right, research is the key. She should have known the reason there were so many open RA spots was because the current ones had a feeling they were about to be shafted.

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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #41 on: April 13, 2012, 03:45:35 PM »
Okay, I feel for her a little, given that's the case.
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Re: College Cost: Need Help Cutting it Down
« Reply #42 on: April 13, 2012, 04:56:11 PM »

Federal work-study jobs, as they're called, are actually one of the forms of aid you may be eligible for. The long and the short of it is that you get an award that you have to work for a bit - say $2000 a year. A department on campus (and select others off campus) can hire you, often for some light clerical work or such and you typically get a lot of time to do your homework. Sometimes you can get lucky and find a professor that has a bit of funding and is doing work that you can help with which is great CV stuff. They only chip in 25% of your salary and the rest comes from that award, which means that you're an attractive job candidate as you cost the department/professor a quarter of a student without work-study.

Also, there's no reason you couldn't do that and another job at the same time (such as be an RA or even another job off campus).
These work really well if you can do it with multiple jobs, but as a single job, there are better paying options. Federal work-study positions tend to pay minimum wage, so that they can spread the funding across as many students as possible. You also have to be very precise in keeping up with your time worked, and make sure you work the mandatory amount of hours per week for your study program; if you have a cram week you can't try to slow down on the work. Most other positions on campus, even if they only pay minimum wage like dining jobs usually do, at least come with perks or slightly more flexibility.


While a lot of work study pays minimum wage, many research assistant type positions are above that and professors are more willing to go above it if they're only on the hook for a quarter of the cost. Also, I have a lot of experience with both being and managing student workers (most with federal work study scholarships). I've never known a department to have those scheduling issues. You can't work more than 20 hours a week, but that was the only issue and that was because you were supposed to be a student first and foremost. Our policy was always that you had to let the office know, but if you needed to take a day off, that was rarely a problem. Perhaps you had some more stringent institutional policies, but that's not universal. And the fact is, if a work-study grant is part of your award package, the only way to get it is a work-study job. Period.

That said, I totally agree with most of the rest of your points, particularly about going to the four-year if the costs are close. I understand the logic of cc's and I have seen a few successful cases (one of the work study students I supervised was a great example) but there are some serious advantages to the four-year if you can swing it. Some of them are less tangible - networks and such - but no less valuable and a good deal harder to cultivate if you come in as a junior. Youngandwise can make it work even if he transfers, it's just not going to come as naturally.

On an only marginally related note, there's no rule that says he can't transfer after his freshman year. Especially if his program has a set order things have to be done in, that might give him enough time to make sure that it happens while still saving him one year. Though I personally still come back to my original feeling that he should try to go to the four-year from the outset, it could work for him.