Reducing The Cost Of School

There are several ways to reduce the amount that going to a college or career school will cost you so you can avoid borrowing too much.

Will the government give me a tax break?

You or your parents might qualify for a Hope tax credit or Lifetime Learning tax credit. IRS Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Higher Education, explains these credits and other tax benefits. There is also a tax deduction for student loan interest for certain borrowers. This benefit applies to federal and nonfederal loans taken out to pay for postsecondary education costs. The maximum deduction is $2,500 a year. For more information, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. TTY callers can call 1-800-829-4059.

What about lower-cost schools?

If you plan on working toward a bachelor’s degree, you might want to consider starting out at a two-year community college and then transferring to a four-year school. Community colleges are partially funded by local and state taxes and are therefore usually less expensive than four-year schools. You’ll want to make sure the courses you take during your first two years will transfer to the four-year school you want to attend and that they will count toward your bachelor’s degree. (Some four-year schools are also partially funded by local and state taxes and can also be less expensive.) You can also save money by living at home and commuting to your local community college.

What about working or volunteering?

Whether you choose a college or a career school, you can work part time to pay for some of your costs. If you do this, you should make sure that you save enough time for studying and that your work and school schedules don’t conflict.

AmeriCorps is a program that allows participants to earn education awards in return for national service. For more information, contact the Corporation for National Service:

  • Corporation for National Service
  • 1201 New York Avenue, NW
  • Washington, DC 20525
  • 1-800-94-ACORPS (1-800-942-2677)
  • www.cns.gov

The U.S. Armed Forces also offer the following educational programs and ways to pay for school or to reduce your school costs:

  • You can attend one of the military academies. These are four-year colleges that are tuition free and offer bachelor’s degrees and a commission in the military after graduation.
  • You can attend a college or career school and enroll in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Program, which will pay your tuition, fees, and books and provide you with a monthly allowance.
  • You can join the Armed Forces before you go to a college or career school and take advantage of the Montgomery GI Bill, which provides financial support to those who attend school after serving in the military.
  • If you enlist in the U.S. Army, you might be eligible to receive repayment assistance from its Loan Repayment Program. For a four-year enlistment in a selected skill in the active Army, up to $65,000 in repayment assistance might be available. For an enlistment in the Army Reserve, up to $20,000 may be available.
  • You can also earn college credit for some military training, possibly reducing the number of classes you’ll have to take.
  • As an active member of the military, you can take courses at a college or career school during your off-duty hours.

Contact your local military recruiter for more information on these programs.

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