5 Ways to Save Thousands of Dollars in College Tuition

July 16, 2017, 09:05 AM

With the price of college tuition climbing every year, students and parents are looking for ways to reduce the cost of college (not just get better interest rates on student loans). Too few, though, know about how to find the BIG money. Here are some “insider” strategies for saving thousands of dollars in college costs.

Grab a Merit-Based Scholarship

Many students and parents believe that colleges only award scholarships based on family income. Wrong! There are many colleges and universities that offer academically motivated students HUGE merit-based scholarships, mainly in the form of tuition reduction (that’s right, not loans!).

What criteria do colleges use: GPA and test scores. That’s pretty much it. Colleges offer these financial incentives to students who will add academic value to the college. At Kranse Institute, we frequently receive “thank you letters” from students who received $25,000+ in merit scholarships based on increasing their SAT® scores. We love that.

Potential Savings: $20,000-50,000+

Graduate in Three Years

Yes, this can be done, if you start now. Many state colleges will give college credits for AP classes (as long as you pass the exam at 4 or above typically). Combine this strategy with taking a few summer classes at the local community college (much less expensive) and you could conceivable graduate a semester or year early, saving yourself thousands of dollars in tuition and room and board.

Potential Savings: $10,000-25,000

Seek Tuition Waivers

The most common type of tuition waiver is offered to veterans, Peace Corp workers, or dependents of higher education employees, as well as students whose parents work in civil service (such as police, firefighters, or teachers. These tuition waivers allow dependents to attend college at greatly reduced tuition rates. If you fall into this category, do the research and find out what’s available at a specific college.

Potential Savings: $20,000+

Take Advantage of Undergraduate Exchange Programs

There are several multi-state tuition reciprocity programs, such as the Midwest Student Exchange (MSEP) and the Western Student Exchange (WUE). Through theses exchanges, public institutions agree to charge students no more than 150% of the in-state resident tuition to out-of-state students. There are a few private institutions that offer a 10% reduction on tuition as well.

Don’t forget to apply early because there are limited spots. Like merit scholarships, GPA and test scores matter in the application.

Potential Savings: $5000-20,000

Study for the PSAT

The National Merit® Scholarship Program is an academic competition in which students enter by taking the SAT® PSAT/NMSQT®. Winners receive a one-time award is $2500, but many colleges offer tuition discounts to National Merit Finalists who enroll at the college. For example, University of Southern California gives a 50% discount (which amounts to $26,000 in savings).

Potential Savings: $2500-25,000+

So, what are you waiting for? Do the research, study hard for the SAT®, and count the dollar bills saved.

Get 30% off digital SAT® PSAT/NMSQT® prep course enrollment with code COACH30 when ordering online at

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