In recent years, student debt rates have skyrocketed astronomically, so much so that experts are defining this era of debilitating tuition and student fee costs as an unprecedented student debt crisis. 

Students and third-party observers alike have a difficult time explaining this boom in tuition fees. Regardless of the reasoning behind an elevation in the cost of a college education in 2020, students and the parents of those students will have to find ways to adjust. In order to plan for the cost of education, it helps to have some grasp on a final total and ways you can effectively alleviate pocket-draining tuition costs. 

As you prepare for your own college adventure or to enroll your child, you’ll want to familiarise yourself with these money-saving strategies, so you can reduce the cost of your college education in 2020. 

The average cost

It’s difficult to estimate the average tuition cost on a global level. However, if you’re interested in attending college in the U.S., the numbers are well-documented. According to recent statistics, the average cost of college is about $54,000 at a private university and $27,000 at a public school. 

Of course, this generated cost of attendance does not include government subsidies or scholarships you or your child may apply for. These financial aid opportunities can reduce the cost of a college education significantly. In fact, with the help of a government subsidy or an awarded scholarship, you can lower the cost of attendance at a private college to about $22,000 and reduce the cost of attendance at public school cost down to around $15,000, on average.

Is it cheaper abroad?

Most students and their families suffering from sticker shock often resort to a grass-is-greener approach: “Can I save money by studying in another country?” The answer is, it depends on where you’re from and where you want to attend college.

American students often assume that they can save money by studying in the UK, but that assumption is rarely correct. The average public university tuition in the United States is a little over $9,400, or £6,600. UK and EU students can pay up to £9,250, and the price is higher for international students. Meaning, most American students won’t save money studying in England. The same is true of UK students hoping to study in America. 

English-speaking students might have better luck in Canada or Australia, but only if they earn citizenship before their arrival. International students looking to attend university in Canada pay an average of $29,714 in Canadian dollars, or £17,576. This is significantly higher than the $5000 tuition cost that the average Canadian student pays in the pursuit of a college education. International students in Australia will pay at least $20,000, which will, unfortunately, average closer to $30,000.

Students who are willing to attend college in a country with a native language other than English will have more options available to them and will have a much better chance of saving money. In Austria, for example, international students are charged less than €800, on average, for their college tuitionmaking it incredibly affordable compared to other international options.

This experience is not for the faint-of-heart, however. Tackling the college experience with a courseload that features your native language is difficult enough. Venturing off into unknown territory and having to master a new language can only add to the emotional distress associated with a new stage of life. Though, some students may weigh their options and decide that the reduced cost is worth the learning curve.

How to reduce costs

The money that’s devoted to your college education can be broken down into two major categories: tuition/fees and cost of living. Some universities require first-year students to live and eat on campus, which bundles those two costs into one bill. However, most of any given student’s college experience will involve either their living at home or paying their own rent and accompanying bills (utilities, wifi, cable, etc.)

Lowering tuition

Most of the countries with the highest average tuition costs, like the UK and the USA, will offer some kind of government aid to low-income students. It’s simple enough to apply for these programs. 

Unfortunately, if a student or their family doesn’t fall under a certain income level, they won’t receive any government benefits or subsidies. Individual institutions will sometimes offer their own financial-aid programs that operate similarly and require special qualifications. 

Aside from those subsidies, students with good grades or specific interests can benefit from competitive scholarships. The downside to pursuing a scholarship is that these financial-aid programs are merit-based and can be difficult to earn, especially when you account for the work that’s involved to apply or even be considered. 

Lowering the cost of living

The cost of living can be more flexible than the cost of tuition. College students aren’t notoriously frugal, but there are certain ways that they can reduce the financial burden of living on their own.

In a particularly expensive area, there isn’t always much one can do to avoid paying exorbitant monthly rates. It’s in the best interest of the student to start looking for an apartment earlier than they think they need to, possibly even by a few months. As they shop, they should keep their eyes on the options as more become available. 

It’s also advisable to live with a roommate to distribute the cost of rent and, therefore, lessen the burden. Some municipalities allow many roommates within a property, while others limit the number to two or three, so students need to be aware of the local laws.

The other costs associated with everyday living can be cut down by careful planning and spending. Before moving into a new living situation, students should take stock of everything they will need, and see how much of it can be borrowed from relatives or purchase secondhand from graduating students. 

Those who know their way around a kitchen will have an advantage in reducing food costs, as basic groceries are usually much cheaper than takeout meals. Students should take the initiative to outline a weekly budget, and follow it as closely as possible. 

Final thoughts

Don’t let the cost of a college education in 2020 deter you from building yfEDour resume, gaining useful hands-on experience/training, and elevating your earning potential. With the right financial strategy, it’s still possible for a student to graduate with minimal student debt that won’t restrict them, as they enter the workforce.