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Financially Fit

Strategies to Make College More Affordable

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With the price of college still on an upward trajectory, families are looking for ways to make higher education affordable.

According to “How America Pays for College,” a report by Sallie Mae, the average American family spent $23,757 on college costs in 2017.

Here are some ways families are reducing their college costs:

• Live at home. The report found 50% of students live with their parents or relatives.

• Cut the pricey top picks. Nearly 70% of families eliminated colleges during the application process due to their high price tags, up from 58% in 2008. About 73% are choosing an in-state school.

• Take a student job. At least 76% of students surveyed reported they planned to work while in college, with 55% working year-round.

• Finish quicker. Nearly 26% of students enrolled in accelerated courses while in high school to pay for fewer semesters in college.

• Use grants and scholarships. Families reported covering about 35% of their school bills with grants and scholarships—the biggest portion of their payment sources. About 87% of these scholarships come from the schools.

• Start a college-savings plan. In 2016-17, 13% of families used the 529 tax-advantaged college-savings plan, with an average amount of $10,031.

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