College Credit – Get More, Pay Less – Here’s How

The high cost of college is forcing students and families to look for new ways to reduce the cost of getting a degree. There are many ways to accomplish this but most students fail to use these opportunities. If college costs are a major burden on your budget, or just a concern, don’t overlook these strategies.

Most high schools offer advanced placement class opportunities to help their students accumulate college credits at a lower cost before they ever start college. By taking the classes in high school and receiving a satisfactory grade on the AP exam, you can get full credit for an entire college course.

If you are taking, or have ever taken AP classes, make sure that you apply for and receive your college credit. If you took the class and passed the exam with a grade of 3.0 or better, you are eligible to receive your credits. These credits can eliminate one college class for each AP exam that you passed. A couple AP classes alone will help, but most college students will change majors at least once during their first three years. This may cause a student to fall behind on the graduation time-line and force them to take additional courses to catch up.

Unfortunately, not all students are offered the opportunity to participate in AP classes due to their grades, time constraints or class availability. For those students, and many others, there are a variety of options which can be used to get the same college credit. Additionally, the costs and time commitment with these programs can be substantially less than the advanced placement system.

One such program is the College Level Examination Program or CLEP, which is offered through the College Board. If used properly, a student could receive enough credit with this program to eliminate up to four full semesters worth of courses. All without ever having to step into a college classroom or lecture hall.

CLEP exams are commonly called “credit by exam programs”. They allow students to study at home or online, take an exam, which if passed will give them full college credit for the class. Currently, there are over 30 courses that can be taken by exam and most colleges will accept the credits.

For just over $100 per exam, students can find course books, online study tutorials and take the exam at an exam center which is usually located at a local university. This is a great way for students to ensure they will graduate on time and help those that want to graduate early by saving an entire semester or even up to two years worth of college tuition.

Some students use CLEP to get ahead so they can pursue a dual major or a minor in another area. No matter how you chose to use the program, it can help you save substantial dollars off the cost of college. A word of caution, before you take too many CLEP exams, check with your college to make sure they accept these credit by exam classes. Presently, over 3,000 schools do, but a full listing of approved colleges can be found on the College Board website.

Another commonly overlooked strategy is to take 18 credit hours each semester. Most schools do not charge extra tuition for taking six classes instead of five, nor do they charge less for only taking four or three classes. Take advantage of this opportunity and get the most education for your hard-earned money.