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Affordable Ways to Earn a College Degree

Consider these non-traditional degree options in your college search.

Save money during college

There are several ways you can save money during your college career.

(Photo: eb_ra / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Let’s be honest. College is just plain expensive.

A bachelor’s degree can cost anywhere from $37,000 to over $130,000, according to the College Board. In 2017, members of Generation X had outstanding student loans averaging $40,000, according to Experian’s State of Student Debt report. Compare that to baby boomers, who owed an average of $36,200, and millennials, who owed about $33,600.

Donald Kerr, senior manager of student lending for AAA Northeast, recommends researching financing options for specific schools.

“It’s good to know what resources are available ahead of time,” he said. “Researching your options ahead of time will save headaches and heartache down the road.”

Exploring alternatives to a bachelor’s degree may save you some money. Here are some options.

Community College

Students attending public two-year colleges pay $3,440 per year on average in tuition and fees as opposed to the whopping $32,410 that students at private four-year colleges pay, according to the College Board.

There are community colleges within commuting distance of 90 percent of the U.S. population, according to The Princeton Review, saving students money on campus housing fees.

Still have your sights set on a four-year degree? Credits earned at a community college are transferrable to most four-year colleges. Research the institution you’re interested in transferring to for its transfer credit policy.

Distance Learning

One of the biggest attractions of distance learning is flexibility. Taking online courses gives you the freedom to work around busy schedules and complete your coursework whenever you choose, based on your professor’s instructions.

And you can get your work done wherever you feel most comfortable. So, if you want to listen to a lecture in your local coffee shop, cappuccino in hand, nothing’s stopping you.

Technical Training

Technical colleges offer shortened educations focused on a specific skill set in careers in fields like plumbing, carpentry, hospitality, health care, information technology, cosmetology and the culinary arts. They’re affordable, too. Attending trade school costs $33,000 on average, much less than the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree, according to Career School Now, a career school network.

A report by JPMorgan Chase & Co. showed that 4 million skilled-services jobs that don’t require bachelor’s degrees were added in 34 states. The emphasis on pursuing a bachelor’s degree has opened the job market for such workers, almost guaranteeing a job in your chosen field of study.

Do you have money-saving tips and advice for pursuing a college degree? Share in the comments!

AAA can help pay for college. Visit AAA.com/StudentLending.

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