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Ways to Lower the Cost of College (page 2)

— U.S. Department of Education
Updated on Mar 22, 2011

Enroll in a Two-Year College; Then Transfer to a Four-Year College

Local community colleges are usually the least expensive. In addition to charging low tuition, usually it is possible to save money by having the student live at home and commute to campus.

After completing an associate's degree or certificate in a two-year college, students often can transfer to a four-year college and work toward a bachelor's degree.

If your child chooses this route, he or she needs to take courses in the two-year college that will count toward a bachelor's degree. Certain community college courses may not be transferable to a four-year institution. Community college admissions officers can explain transfer terms and opportunities.

Work Part Time

Some students choose to work part time and attend college part time. If your child wishes to do this, he or she should make sure that work, classes, and time for studying do not conflict. Some institutions offer programs that enable students to combine work and classes. Although going to school part time is a good option for many students, it usually takes longer for part-time students to earn their degrees.

Take Advantage of Armed Forces Education Programs

All of the ways to get postsecondary educational training through the armed forces are shown in Chart 9 below. The armed forces offer educational programs during or after active duty. If your child prefers to work toward a college degree immediately after high school, attending one of the military academies or attending a civilian school and enrolling in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program are options. If your child wants to join the armed forces before attending college full time, he or she can attend college after military service by taking advantage of the Montgomery GI Bill or by obtaining college credit for some of the military training he or she will receive.

  • Military Academies

    Each branch of the military, with the exception of the Marine Corps, has its own academy -- a four-year college that offers a bachelor's degree and a commission in the military upon graduation. The military academies are highly competitive and are tuition-free to students who are admitted. The three main military academies are:

    1. U.S. Military Academy, located in West Point, New York;
    2. U.S. Naval Academy, located in Annapolis, Maryland; and
    3. U.S. Air Force Academy, located in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
  • Other Academies

    Two other academies operate on the same model as the military academies, with subsidized tuition in return for service. They are:

    1. U.S. Coast Guard Academy, located in New London, Connecticut; and
    2. U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, located in Kings Point, New York.
  • ROTC

    In the ROTC scholarship program, the military covers most of the cost of tuition, fees, and textbooks and also provides a monthly allowance. Scholarship recipients participate in summer training while in college and fulfill a service commitment after college.

  • The Montgomery GI Bill

    This bill provides financial support for people who wish to pursue a college education after serving in the military.

  • Other Ways To Get a College Education in the Armed Forces

    Most branches of the military offer some kind of tuition assistance program that enables members to take college courses at civilian colleges during their off-duty hours while on active duty. In addition, military training while on active duty can sometimes count toward college credit. All branches of the military offer training in various technical and vocational areas, and military enrollees can often obtain college credit for some of this training.

    The National Guard and the Reserves offer the same kind of educational benefits as those available to people on Active Duty.

Local armed forces recruiting offices can provide detailed information about education opportunities through the military.

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