Tips to Minimize Debt While Pursuing an Allied Health Degree
Student loans two years ago topped the nation’s credit card debt and it doesn’t look like things will slow. The federal College Affordability and Transparency Center shows costs at four-year schools including public, private and for profit went up last year on average of 11%. The cost for all two-year schools averaged an increase of 14%.
Whether students or the family foot the bill, everyone needs to find ways to knock that mountain of debt down as much as possible and spend less money getting an education.
One of the first is to weigh schooling options and impact on cost, such as in-state compared to out-of-state, traditional or online, public or private, loans compared to scholarships. All these funding options and programs can impact what you pay for college.
So, here are some tips to save on tuition cost and other expenses as you pursue your allied health degree or certification:
How about a two-for?
Some schools offer a discount if siblings close to the same age or twins attend the same college. According to a video on the CNNMoney website, the discount may be up to 50%, though it varies by college and not all colleges have such an offer.
Cut out-of-state tuition
The same CNNMoney video also said some states have agreements to offer non-residents tuition close to what they charge those who live in the state. Out-of-state tuition can be up to four times the rate for residents, but the reciprocity compacts or agreements as they are called may cut out-of-state tuition by half, the video said.
Pursuing allied health degrees online may also save money, according to oedb.org, the website for Online Education Database. However, even if tuition costs are about the same as traditional courses, online classes can cut costs for commuting, textbooks and dorms, the website said. Online classes also offer a more flexible schedule for students with a job.
Taking some courses online can save money but be sure the credits will transfer if you shift to a brick and mortar school. Also, carefully research the school’s tuition rates and check for additional fees that may not be apparent.
This can be a big one with a lot of sources for college financial aid. The first and maybe most important step is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, even while still in high school. This is the key to federal grants and state aid.
The federal government’s website, fafsa.ed.gov, has information about the application, deadlines and financial aid. Most federal money comes through Pell Grants that averaged $4,000 a student last year. The U.S. Department of Education is the largest source of financial aid with $150 billion in grants, loans and other programs.
Look to your career
You can also find financial aid specific to your allied health career through organizations such as the Special Olympics that has grants for students in health sciences or the American Occupational Therapy Foundation with grants for students seeking a master’s in occupational therapy.
The federal Nursing Scholarship Program has scholarships for nursing students who will work at certain types of health care facilities for two years after graduation.
Hit the books
Textbooks and supplies run about $1,200 a year, according to College Board, but fortunately e-books and online sources can help cut that cost. Though most students prefer print to e-books, according to a TODAY.com story, electronic versions are far less expensive. Also, you might rent some textbooks on Kindle and from other online sites, the article on today.msnbc.msn.com said.
Online sites for new and used books abound and using the ISBN number from the campus bookstore helps with comparing prices to be sure you’re getting the right book, the article said.
When selling the books, check online sites such as eBay in addition to the campus bookstore, or even sell to fellow classmates.
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