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5 Ways to Reduce Your College Tuition or Receive Loan Forgiveness

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A University of Colorado sophomore raised eyebrows this week by paying his spring semester tuition—all $14,309.51 of it—with dollar bills, a fifty-cent piece and a penny. It took Nic Ramos, an economics major at the college, two days to withdraw the money from several banks and three school employees spent nearly an hour counting the money. According to the New York Times, Ramos wanted to give the school “a different way to look at tuition,” which has been rising rapidly across the country.

Ramos may have found “a symbolic way to strike back,” as the Times put it, but he still had to empty his bank accounts to pay his out-of-state college tuition. Below you can read about 5 other ways to pay your college tuition and save money in the process. Check ‘em out and start saving today.

1. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program was created to encourage people to work full-time in public service jobs such as law enforcement, public defense or social work. You may qualify for forgiveness of the remaining balance due on your eligible federal student loans after you have made 120 payments on loans under certain repayment plans while employed full-time by certain public service employers. Only non-defaulted loans made under the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program are eligible for loan forgiveness. For more info, visit the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program Q & A’s.

2. Work Off Student Loan Debt with Community Service

Recent college graduates with Perkins loans can receive partial loan cancellation by serving as a Peace Corps volunteer. Volunteers can have 15% of their loans cancelled upon the completion of each 365 days of service during the first two years of service, and 20% can be cancelled upon completion of each of the third and fourth years. Four full years of Peace Corps service would equal a 70% loan cancellation.

3. Tuition-Free Colleges

Tuition-free colleges, sometimes called full-scholarship colleges, are institutions which guarantee to cover the entire study body’s tuition. The requirements for admittance vary, but most people never knew that such colleges existed. A prime example is College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri, where students are charged $0 in tuition. In exchange for a free college education, students must work 15 hours of work-study per week plus two weeks of full-time work during the year. The jobs include landscaping, teaching at the college’s day care center, doing community service, milking cows at the school’s dairy farm or working in the school’s fruitcake factory, which makes 30,000 fruitcakes a year. Learn more about College of the Ozarks and other tuition-free colleges at the Work Colleges Consortium.

4. Serve in the Military

The U.S. Armed Forces offer several programs to provide students with money for college. Students can serve in the military first and attend college after or attend college first and serve after. Students who choose to serve in the military first can receive up to $50,000, depending on the program, toward school expenses in return for an active duty tour. Students who participate in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) at their college or university prior to serving in the military could be eligible for merit-based scholarships worth more than $50,000. For more info, visit SallieMae College Answer.

5. Start Out at Community College

Some high school students wince at the thought of attending a community college, but transferring to a four-year school after getting core classes out of the way is an easy way to cut costs. The credits earned at the much-cheaper community college will still apply toward your four-year degree and no one will know the difference—it won’t have the words “Transfer Student” etched on it!

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Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.


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