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Fri., Aug. 1, 2008

If you’re heading to college this fall, or you’re a high school senior about to apply, you’ll realize right away that a college education doesn’t come cheap. While scholarships and grants are good ways to get a break on tuition, they are not always easy to obtain.

Consider these tips from Christina Couch of on ways to cut college costs:

Take college-level classes in high school. High school seniors can receive college credit in high school by taking advanced placement, international baccalaureate or dual enrollment courses. These classes will cost just a fraction of what they would at college, and in some cases the high school will pick up the cost. Be careful, though. Some colleges might not accept these credits, so you’ll want to call before you apply to make sure they will transfer.

Use your tax credits. The federal government offers two kinds of tax credits for education: the Hope tax credit and the lifetime learning tax credit. The Hope credit gives a $1,500 break a year for the first two years, as long as the individual taking the credit pays for college rather than the government or private financial aid. The lifetime learning credit allows families to deduct up to $2,000 a year for all education expenses (this includes undergraduate and graduate coursework) incurred in the household. A $2,000 deduction assumes a $10,000 total expense. Only 20 percent of your expenses count toward the credit.

Get tuition money from service. A host of organizations, including Americorps, the Peace Corps and Teach for America offer service awards to students who sign up. These awards don’t affect federal financial aid eligibility like scholarships and grants do. Other organizations, such as the National Health Service Corps, Army National Guard and the National Institutes of Health all sponsor loan forgiveness programs that pay off student loans in exchange for post-graduate service.



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