Reduce Living Expenses
Save on Education Expenses

(Last updated: April 13, 2017)

This page shows how to save money by reducing your education expenses. Education expenses, especially for college, can be significant for many people. By reducing these expenses, you can have more money for other things.

These suggestions are offered for your consideration. Perhaps they can guide you to a better life style. But the final choices are up to you.

Here are the topics:

G.I. benefits, grants, loans, and scholarships
Income tax benefits
Living expenses
Online degrees
School supplies
Selecting college to attend
Should you even attend college?

In order to reduce education expenses, you may have to do some planning and change some of your habits and preferences. Whether the money you can save is worth the effort is up to you.


IMPORTANT

Before using this information to reduce your living expenses be sure to read the following notice: Disclaimer.

G.I. benefits, grants, loans, and scholarships

This topic discusses various sources of money to pay for part or all of a college education.

G.I. benefits

In July of 2008, the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill was signed into law, creating a new robust education benefits program rivaling the WWII Era G.I. Bill of Rights.

Following are some helpful websites:

American Legion -- Veterans Education Center.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs -- This government website has information on G.I. Bill benefits.

Military Child Education -- Coalition for military child education.

Military Education -- Benefits and Programs Guide.

Military.com Education -- This private website has scads of useful information for active and former military types.

Grants

Pell Grant -- This grant is sponsored by the U.S. Department of education. Since it is a grant, it does not have to be repaid. It is meant for students from low-income families. The current maximum grant is $5,350. This maximum amount can change each year because it depends on the amount of funding approved by Congress. The information from the FAFSA form is used to determine eligibility for this grant.

Following are some helpful websites:

FAFSA -- This is a government website that lets you fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form online.

Federal Pell Grant Program -- This is a government website with information about the Pell Grant.

Loans

Student loans -- Loans are available from both government and private sources. However, the government loans usually are better, because of the lower interest rate.

Stafford Loan -- This is a government loan made to students based on their financial needs. The amount of the loan is determined by the expected family contribution, derived from the FAFSA form.

Subsidized Stafford loans do not accrue interest until after graduation. These loans are based on your financial need and the information on the FAFSA form.

Unsubsidized Stafford loans begin accruing interest before graduation. However, payments are not required until after you graduate or attend school less than half time. Students are eligible for this loan regardless of financial need.

Following are some helpful websites:

StaffordLoan.com -- This private website helps you apply for a Stafford Loan.

FinAid -- This is a private website with information about a Stafford Loan and other financial aids.

New loan program -- The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program provides loans to student and parent borrowers directly through the U.S. Department of Education rather than through a bank or other lender.

Following are some helpful websites:

Direct Loans -- This government website contains information about the new direct loan program.

Student Aid -- This is a government website that provides information about student aid on the Internet.

Scholarships

Scholarships pay for part or all of your college expenses. These awards are based on various factors, such as good grades, student activity, and sports ability.

Note: Most websites that let you search for athletic scholarships charge a fee for their services, so I choose not to include any of these websites below.

Following are some helpful websites:

FastWeb -- This website lets you search for scholarships.

Scholarships.com -- This website lets you search for scholarships and other financial aids.

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Income tax benefits

The following statement was copied from the website of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (www.irs.gov). It was last reviewed or updated December 16, 2009.

"The tax code provides a variety of tax incentives for families who are saving for, or already paying, higher education costs or are repaying student loans.

"You may be able to claim a Hope and Lifetime Learning Credit for the qualified tuition and related expenses of the students in your family (i.e., you, your spouse, or an eligible dependent) who are enrolled in eligible educational institutions. Different rules apply to each credit. If you claim a Hope Scholarship Credit for a particular student, none of that student's expenses for that year may be applied toward the Lifetime Learning Credit.

"You may be able to claim a tuition deduction of up to $4,000 of qualified education expenses paid during the year for yourself, your spouse, or your dependent. You cannot claim this deduction if your filing status is married filing separately or if another person can claim an exemption for you as a dependent on his or her tax return. The qualified expenses must be for higher education.

"You may be able to deduct interest you pay on a qualified student loan. And, if your student loan is canceled, you may not have to include any amount in income. The deduction is claimed as an adjustment to income so you do not need to itemize your deductions on Schedule A Form 1040."

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Living expenses

While attending an out-of-town college, you might decide to live off-campus in an apartment or rental house. If you need roommates to share expenses select them carefully. They should have compatible lifestyles and be financially responsible. You don't want to be stuck with all the bills if rowdy roommates are kicked out or they won't pay their share of expenses.

You can probably save money by buying furniture and household items for your apartment or rental house at secondhand stores or yard sales.

It's usually cheaper to prepare your own meals than to eat at restaurants or dine on fast food. You can prepare healthy meals that don't cost much. See the Save on Food and Grocery Expenses page for useful information on this matter.

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Online degrees

One way to save money while getting a college education is to use online or distance learning websites.

Online degree programs

Capella University -- They offer many fields of study at various degree levels.

Kaplan University -- They offer online degrees and distance learning programs in various areas of study.

Liberty University -- They provide a Christian environment for distance learning programs.

Westwood College -- They offer more than 25 diploma, associate, bachelor's and master's programs, ranging from Business Administration to Criminal Justice to Game Art to Information Technology.

University of Phoenix -- They offer associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees, certification, and single courses. They have programs in business, criminal justice, education, nursing & health care, psychology, information technology, and more.

Sources of online degrees

NexTag -- This website allows you to search for online degree programs for your area of interest and degree level.

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School supplies

You probably can save money by buying college school supplies at a discount store or superstore (such as Costco, Kmart, Target, or Wal-Mart), rather than in the campus bookstore.

You can buy new and used textbooks at the websites discussed at the Online bookstores topic on another page.

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Selecting college to attend

You might want to attend a local community college for the first two years. This lets you live at home. Also, the tuition should be much less than for a big-name university. However, be sure that these credits can be transferred to whichever four-year college you expect to attend for the last two years.

You may want to choose a college or university based on your expected employment. Some employers favor certain types of educational institutions. It may be worthwhile to contact some typical employers in your expected profession and/or job location to ask about their preferences.

Website for selecting college to attend

Education Connection -- They provide "a new approach to finding your perfect education match."

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Should you even attend college?

A problem has developed in the United States concerning attending college. The average student has discovered to his or her dismay that after incurring a large student loan and graduating, there are few good jobs available.

So if a college degree no longer guarantees a good job after graduation, why even go to college and incur a large debt?

Perhaps a better choice would be attending a technical school for a trade that is in demand. This could be plumbing, refrigeration repair, and so on.

Another choice might be taking a low-level position in a company based on a new technology. You might be able to get free on-the-job training in a growing field. This choice could provide a salary and education all at the same time, and without incurring any large debt.

These choices are something to consider in these hard times.

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