Alternative Ways to Make College More Affordable
Special to The Truth
A college education is one
of the largest expenses you’re likely to have in your
lifetime, second only to buying a home. Unfortunately, the
cost has increased dramatically in recent years.
Tuition plus fees at
four-year public colleges jumped 71 percent over the last
decade, forcing many would-be degree seekers to delay or
even forgo attending college. For others, it’s meant heading
to school while taking on large amounts of debt.
Today, however, new
solutions are popping up to address the college
affordability crisis. Most people know about grants and
scholarships. Students can now also consider alternate paths
to college credit, helping them graduate faster and more
affordably, say experts.
Here’s what you need to
• The average cost of a
typical undergraduate college course is $1,782. In high
school, take as many Advanced Placement (AP) and College
Level Examination Program (CLEP) courses as you can handle,
increasing your opportunity to earn college credit and save
money on tuition.
• The College Board’s CLEP,
while not as well-known as AP, is a 50-year-old
credit-by-examination program accepted by more than 2,900
schools and universities. Check to see if the colleges you
are considering accept CLEP credit, and then work hard to
succeed on one or more of the 32 CLEP exams. CLEP courses
and exams are rigorous, but shorter and not as challenging
• Consider new programs
such as “Freshman Year for Free,” an initiative developed by
Modern States Education Alliance, a charity dedicated to
making a college degree more affordable and attainable for
everyone. Students can use Modern States’ 40+ tuition-free
online courses -- all taught by top college professors -- to
prepare for the AP and CLEP exams.
• One advantage of CLEP
tests is that they are offered every day at thousands of
testing centers. AP exams can only be taken in high schools
in May. Modern States is paying the AP and CLEP exam fees
for the first 10,000 test-takers, making the program, which
also includes free textbooks and practice questions, totally
“This is a great on-ramp
to college and an opportunity to save both time and up to 25
percent of the rising cost of a degree,” says Steve Klinsky,
founder and CEO of Modern States Education Alliance.
To learn more, visit
• Attending community
college for the first two years and then transferring to a
four-year institution offers another opportunity to cut
costs. Dual-enrollment programs, whereby students take
college courses at a city or community college while still
in high school, are another great way to head to college
with some credits under your belt.
More than one-third of
Americans ages 30 and younger who haven’t attended college
attribute their decision to the high cost, according to a
Federal Reserve survey. In fact, U.S. student loan debt
stands at an all-time high of $1.34 trillion. Don’t miss out
on an education or let it saddle you with debt. Seek out
alternative methods for earning college credits.