How can students squeeze cash out of their school?

As part our College Q & A guide, we decided to ask your questions to the the experts. Here are their answers.

Nina Berler Founder unCommon Apps

In this turbulent economy students need to save all the cash they can. A major area of savings is in tuition, and there are a few ways to make that happen. For starters, students who come in with AP credits should find out whether they might be able to reduce the number of credits required for graduation, perhaps graduating early. (Even if they just get placement credit, that’s not a bad deal.) Students should diligently watch for grants and prizes available through their colleges. Some colleges, though not all, offer merit aid of some sort. Students should contact their financial aid offices for more details. Should family finances change, colleges will work hard to keep their existing students on target to receive their degrees on time and without high levels of debt. (The best kinds of scholarships are actually reductions in tuition.) Finally, students should look whether alternative programs offered during summer and winter breaks cost less than a standard course.  Regarding day-to-day costs, there are other possibilities for savings. Students may find that they can reduce the amount of their meal plans. They may be able to find housing off campus or for less than their existing dorms.

Heather Tomasello Writing Coach The EssayLady, LLC

Don’t stop searching for scholarships once you get there! Many students make this mistake and quit their scholarship search once they start attending college. Check regularly with your Student Financial Services department and online for merit-based scholarships awarded by your school (many of these are on the college or major level.) Another “best kept secret” is coop dorms. Look into your Department of Housing for on-campus coops. In exchange for light upkeep you can save substantially on your room and board. There may also be off-campus or independently-run coop houses near campus. You can save 1/2 or more on room and board!

Zahir Robb College Counselor The Right Fit College

While I don’t like the idea of squeezing money out of a school, you can increase aid amounts by performing at your highest levels. Merit Aid is increasingly available at schools considered “less selective”, and you can earn yourself significant aid through these schools just by maintaining a decent GPA and good test scores. Don’t forget that you can always appeal your award, but contact the admissions department of the school in question to cover the particulars.

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