Do Your Homework before Heading to College

With the high cost of tuition today, many families of college-bound high school seniors wonder how they are going to afford their college education. Credit Union West encourages you to do your homework to find creative ways to reduce costs. Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Take as many Advanced Placement (AP) courses as possible. Encourage your student to take AP courses and prepare well for AP exams. High scores on AP exams can save considerably on college tuition. Many colleges award course credits for them, which can reduce the amount you need to pay in tuition.

2. Pay less for a four-year degree. You can save on costs if the student attends a community college for two years and then transfers to a pricier school for his or her remaining two years. However, be sure that the college to which the student plans to transfer will accept the credits from the community college.

3. If you have to borrow, pursue federal loans first. Avoid having the student take on private loans.

4. Take advantage of education tax benefits. After all, a dollar you can save on your taxes is worth the same as getting an additional dollar in grant or scholarship aid. Visit to learn more.

6. Refrain from putting tuition on a credit card. If you put large tuition payments on credit and do not immediately pay the amount in full, you will end up spending significantly more money in the long run due to the credit card interest rates.

5. Check out the Department of Education’s College Navigator (, which lets you search for details about colleges throughout the U.S., including tuition and housing costs, majors and degrees offered and typical SAT scores of students attending. You can even build a list of schools for side-by-side comparisons.

Visit to download our free BudgetSmart Software. By planning now, sticking to your goals and reviewing your progress, you should be able to help with your children’s college education.

Source: Accel Financial Services; Contributed by: Credit Union West

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