How to Save Over $19,000 On Your College Degree

The cost of going to college and more importantly completing a degree  continue to rise.  Many top colleges out there are too expensive for the average student.

Leading many college ready students to seek ways to save on college costs.  So just how do students save on college costs?  And I’m not talking about small savings; I’m talking about saving over 80% on college costs.

To save on college costs…

Go to a two year college over a four year college for your freshman and sophomore year.  Meaning, start your first semester and end your fourth semester at a two year college to save on college costs.

The Deciding Factor

This is one of the major reasons I attended my local community college.  I have always been money conscious and I was determined to spend the least amount of money.

Not knowing much about how college worked at the time I ignored the few acceptance letters I received from different schools.  I also didn’t try too hard to apply for scholarships and so I settled to go to the junior or community college near me.

Nothing against universities, but if you don’t have the money like I didn’t or just don’t want to spend a lot then starting at a university isn’t practical.  In these situations community colleges are the practical choice.


Looking back I wouldn’t change the school I attended.  In my opinion I received a great education regardless of the fact that it was at a community college.  I was also lucky enough to get a federal grant that first semester, which covered my entire tuition.

I’m blessed to have gone to college for free that first semester.  It didn’t bother me that I was having to start my first semester at a community college.

After all it doesn’t matter where you start.  Your degree is not going to explain that you started your undergrad at a community college; it is going to solely bear the name of the university you graduated from.

Plus, community college and college university credit hours transfer just the same, so don’t get tricked into paying more for an equal education.

Cost Difference

For example say it costs $86 per credit hour at a community college.  That same credit hour is going to cost you $404 at a public college university.  I won’t even go into private university costs, which can be well over the cost of public university tuition.

Now factor in the total cost of the first two years at each of these schools.  Two years would total at $4128 at the community college level and $23520 at the university level.  So save over 80% of the cost of a university and choose your local community college to finish your first two years of your education.

Community College $2,064 $2,064 $4,128
College University $11,760 $11,760 $23,520

So four years would look a little something like this…

Community College 2,064 2,064 n/a n/a 27,648
College University 11,760 11,760 11,760 11,760 47,040

Why Delay Transferring

Unless you are blessed with a full ride scholarship to a university of your choice; you should avoid starting your college education with a four year school.  Choose to transfer to a budget friendly university during your third year and then you can graduate from that university.

And guess what your future employers won’t be the wiser that you attended a community college; unless you tell them otherwise.  So invest in your future by saving your money and avoid the debt of attending a four year college university right off the bat.

Feel free to research the costs for yourself if you are still not convinced, but it is what it is.  You save when you start and finish your first two college years at a two year community college.  Money is wasted when you start your first year at a four year university.

After finishing my junior and senior years at a university I can attest that the education is no better.  That is my experience though.  Someone else might give you a different or opposite perspective of their own college experience.

My opinion is this, if you don’t mind wasting your money then listen to them.  Start your freshman year at that big college university you always see portrayed in the movies.  It might look fun, but the debt that comes with is not.

“Don’t give up what you most want in life for something you think you want now.”

–Richard G. Scott

Think Of Your Future

Wouldn’t you much rather have money to do what you want later in life.  Rather than be locked into loan payments for the rest of your life?  That is the difference of choosing to start at a community college over a college university.  Choose wisely!

Comment below: Did you attend a community college during your college years?  Was it worth the savings?  Or do you feel like you missed out on the college experience?

Tawnya is the founder of The Dancing Dollar, a blog about frugality & personal finance.  She writes about how frugal living can help other individuals & families live [happily] below their means.  She & her husband are on the path to pay off their home in less than half the time.  Click here to learn more.