How to Lower the Cost of Your College Education

School costsThe cost of going to college has risen 15 percent in just a generation. The average cost of a four year college degree is $22,300. However, there are some ways to lower the cost of going to college.

Get Scholarships

The easiest way to lower the cost of your college education is to get an academic scholarship. You can reduce the cost of going to school by as much as a third. Every little bit helps when it comes to paying for school.

Plan Accordingly

College expenses can go up if you don’t finish your degree in four years. Make a plan to finish college in four years no matter what. Allow some wiggle room in case you decide to switch majors. Focus on taking core classes that may also provide credit for a variety of majors. It is also a good idea to pick up college credits while in high school. Getting free credits now means paying for fewer credits in college.

Start Saving Today

Some colleges will allow parents to start paying for college before their child signs up for classes. Paying tuition for future years at today’s prices can drastically reduce the cost of a college education. Sign up for a 529 savings plan that will enable parents to invest in a savings plan that will accrue interest over time.

Take Advantage of Tax Breaks

Paying at least $4,000 dollars each year for educational expenses will allow you to claim the American Opportunity Tax Credit. This will shave $2,500 off your tax return for the 2012 tax year. That money can then go toward paying other college expenses.

Don’t forget about the deduction for student loan interest. Parents can take up to $2,500 as a tax deduction for any student loan interest paid. Students can take this deduction if they took out the loan themselves. Students must also not be a dependent on a tax return.

Getting credits in high school, saving as soon as possible and taking advantage of tax breaks make it easier to pay for college. Doing some basic planning now will save you a lot o money on tuition in the long run.

Read more at CNN Money.