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How To Make College More Affordable In 2024

As the cost of higher education and the overall cost of living continue to rise in the US, colleges, students, and their families want to know how to make college more affordable. 

A college degree is required for many entry-level positions and advancement opportunities, but for some people, paying for an associate’s, bachelor’s, and/or master’s degree may seem unattainable. With the right knowledge and strategies, you can reduce your education expenses without sacrificing the quality of your college experience.

a lightbulb on top of a pile of coins with a grad cap on top and a tree inside of it representing the growing cost of college

Unity Environmental University offers a private school education at a public school cost.

Why Should College Be More Affordable?

Everyone deserves access to a quality education. Higher education is crucial to the advancement of our country socially, politically, and economically. In fact, research shows that higher education increases:

  • Civic engagement
  • Cultural awareness
  • Technological literacy
  • Environmental stewardship
  • Social mobility

It’s also essential for college to be more affordable so that graduates are not drowning in student debt. High levels of student loan debt have a negative effect on the economy because consumers have less disposable income to put back into the market. Affordable higher education increases individuals’ earning potential without large amounts of debt. 

How Unity Environmental University Is Affordable, Flexible, And Accessible

Unity Environmental University is committed to affordable and accessible higher education. We offer eight start dates throughout the year. There is no application deadline or priority filing deadline for financial aid, so you can apply when it’s convenient for you. Furthermore, we don’t require SAT test scores or letters of recommendation for new students or transfer students

At Unity, we never charge an application fee, and you can take up to two 5-week classes at a time. We offer distance education and hybrid programs, meaning you can earn a degree without any travel or relocation costs if that is what you need. Many of our students are employed full-time and take classes when they can. How to afford college looks different for each individual.

coins in a jar with a grad cap on top representing the cost of college

Explore more of what makes Unity Environmental University a one-of-a-kind college experience.

How To Make College More Affordable

There are a multitude of ways to make college more affordable. Some require more advanced planning and effort than others. Pick and choose what works for you from the comprehensive list below.

Take AP Classes Or Earn Transferable Credits

Did you know you can start earning college credit while still in high school? Many high schools offer Advanced Placement (AP) classes. To earn college credit, in addition to the AP class, you must pass the corresponding AP test. You can earn up to a year of credits before you even start college, depending on the institution’s transfer credits policy. Typically, you earn 3-4 credits per passing AP test, which is equivalent to one semester-long class. 

The credits from AP tests may count toward many of the general education requirements of your college. This means paying for fewer classes and focusing on your major earlier. You could also take general education classes at your local community college or online while still in high school and transfer those credits to your four-year institution. 

an infographic showing the difference in average annual room and board between Unity Environmental University, 2-year colleges, and 4-year colleges

Enroll In A Distance Education Program

Taking in-person classes comes with additional costs, whether paying for on-campus housing or a parking spot to commute. With Unity Environmental University’s distance education programs, there are no additional costs. You only pay for college tuition, fees, and books or other course materials. The average annual cost for a full-time online undergraduate student is $15,000, while the average annual cost for room and board alone is $12,111 for traditional 4-year colleges.

You can also earn a master’s degree 100% online, and financial aid is available for eligible distance education students at all levels. And, because online classes are asynchronous, you will have more flexibility in your schedule to work and earn income to help cover education expenses. 

Fill Out FAFSA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used to determine eligibility for financial aid, grants, and work-study programs. It’s an online form that every student should complete. It is accepted by all colleges and universities that participate in the federal financial aid program. 

Many schools also use the FAFSA to determine eligibility for financial aid provided by the institution and/or the state. You may need your parent(s)/guardian(s) help filling out the FAFSA as it will ask for information such as their:

  • Social security numbers
  • Income levels
  • Certain assets

New students at Unity usually receive financial aid offers within 3-5 days of completing the FAFSA.

Explore Further Financial Aid Options

The more options you explore, the more chances you have of getting your college education fully or mostly paid for. Research scholarships, grants, and fellowships that you might be eligible for. You do not have to pay back these types of financial aid. Some can also be used to cover living expenses while in school. Oftentimes, the applications may require an essay or letters of recommendation. Be wary of any scholarship that requires a fee to apply.

If possible, explore student loans as a last resort. Filling out the FAFSA will determine whether you are eligible for government-subsidized or unsubsidized loans. Subsidized loans will not accrue interest while you are still in school or loan deferment, but unsubsidized loans start accruing interest at the time of disbursement.

Utilize University Resources

To get the most value out of your education, try to take advantage of as many university resources as you can. Visit your school’s career services center. They can help prepare students to find jobs and internships. They may also have tips and resources for how to budget and save money. Unity Environmental University provides online resources to make it easy to find an internship related to your field of study so that you can earn income and experience simultaneously.

Other beneficial university resources to leverage include but are not limited to:

an infographic showing the difference in average annual books and supplies between Unity Environmental University, 2-year colleges, and 4-year colleges

Opt For Digital Textbooks

Textbooks can be expensive, with the average annual cost for books and supplies at 4-year public colleges being $1,216. Most often, you won’t use them again after the course ends. You can buy used textbooks online or sometimes at your college’s bookstore. Digital textbooks may be available and are often cheaper. Some assigned books may even be available at your local library to borrow for free. You can photocopy certain pages if needed.

At Unity Environmental University, you do not need to buy books in over half of our courses. Most of the reading materials are supplied.

Watch Dr. Melik Peter Khoury, President & CEO of Unity Environmental University, talk about the institutions’ role in how to reduce college costs to lower barriers to higher education.

unity environmental university logo

Plan And Budget Wisely

When budgeting for how to afford college, make sure to include expenses for books and other supplies like a laptop. If you are taking in-person classes, factor in any commuting costs like gas money and parking fees. There are many free financial planning apps that you can download on your phone to help with creating a budget and tracking expenses. Lastly, be selective about accepting student loans beyond what you need to cover basic expenses. Loan interest can add up quickly. 

Seek Part-Time Employment

There are many part-time jobs available to college students both on and off campus. Work-studies are popular part-time jobs for college students. The government partially funds it as financial aid, and usually, one will work no more than 20 hours a week. Even distance education programs like Unity’s offer work-study opportunities to its students. A student ambassador can help connect people to those opportunities. 

Balancing a course load and a part-time job can also help you develop your time management skills. When deciding how many hours to work versus how many classes to take, be realistic about how much time you need for studying, homework, and other life responsibilities. Unity makes it easy with flexible term schedules, allowing you to have the choice of working full-time while going to school full-time.

Take Advantage Of Student Discounts

One more way to make college more affordable is to take advantage of student discounts whenever possible to reduce everyday expenses. A little research and advanced planning can help you find the best deals, as they are often time-sensitive. For example, Apple and Dell both offer student discounts on laptops, but Apple’s deal is only available at the start of the academic year. With your college ID, you can also get student discounts at numerous stores, museums, movie theaters, insurance companies, and more. 

Students smile at the camera in their caps and gowns during Commencement.

Apply To Unity Environmental University’s Distance Education For Affordability And Flexibility

Unity Environmental University understands that many students and families are focused on how to make college more affordable. That’s why we are taking some of the pressure off families by providing the lowest-cost online programs we can with the highest quality education. We believe in transparency when it comes to tuition costs and fees, and most of our students receive some type of financial aid. Our distance education programs include experiential learning to ensure all students get real-life experience and graduate ready to positively impact our world.