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Cutting college costs - how one family saved thousands on tuition.

Updated: Jan 19, 2020

Just wait.

The two words every new parent hates to hear. Things are bad enough. Up all night. Exhaustion. Diaper expenses. Adjusting from two incomes to one. The fear of tomorrow or even teething-survival. And then some all-wise older, more experienced parent, full of encouragement and hope for the future, brings up college-

Just wait until they’re all in college at the same time.

That time has come for us. The Lord blessed us with four babies in less than four years (and eventually two more over the next eight.) Those first four babies are now 21, 19, 17 and 17. When my twins graduate from high school in just a few months, we will have four college-aged children.

It’s true that college is expensive, but it is also true that there are ways to cut costs.

Our oldest daughter attended a private Christian school about twelve hours away from our home. Tuition was not cheap and frankly, more than we could comfortably afford. Thankfully, she qualified for academic scholarships that reduced this cost by a little over 50%. She found a job babysitting in the area as well as working as a college ambassador, and with just a little help from us, was able to pay for her rent and food. By God’s grace, we were able to pay the remainder of her tuition expenses. She now is at a public university in another state finishing her degree because while at the Christian school, she met the love of her life, married him, and moved away for his grad-school program. However, she enjoyed every minute of the two years she spent at the Christian university. My husband and I feel that though the cost was more than we’d wanted to pay, she received an excellent education at this school, and the spiritual climate and encouraging community was exactly what she needed.

Exactly six months after our oldest daughter began college, our second daughter graduated from high school. We planned to let her begin at our local university and then transfer to a Christian school, but she made the choice to stay in our town. This definitely had something to do with a young man she met at our church who very soon became her husband! Because she lived at home and her tuition was several thousand dollars less than her sister’s, she did not have to help pay for living expenses, so with her job, she saved, bought her first car, and helped pay for her wedding.

Both girls shaved some expenses off their college bills by enrolling in our local community college while still in high school. Our state provides free tuition for high school students who dual-enroll. This program was not an option until my oldest daughter was a senior. However, she took several classes her senior year as well as CLEP tests for three courses. My second daughter graduated a semester early from high school with nearly 50 credit hours. When she enrolled in our local state school, she had only six semesters left to have a degree in elementary education; thus, her high school credits took one year off of her degree. All told, that is nearly a $10,000 savings!

Both girls are now married and qualify for grants that they were unable to receive as our dependents. Both girls are, so far, college-debt free. They chose different paths. One was pricier but definitely what she needed. Both girls were willing to sacrifice their time and work and help with their expenses.

And now we are planning what our twins will do when they graduate from high school. They are both on track to graduate from high school with 60+ hours of college credit. My husband and I tell them often how thankful we are for their diligence. If each of our children attends college for three years instead of four, it is as if one goes free!

We are not sure what our next two will do, but we know the Lord will direct. We are also thankful that they have two very different college templates to learn from. Going away will require more personal financial sacrifice. However, if that is how God directs, we know He will make a way.

Just wait… College is coming, but God’s got this!

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