Paying for College: Tips for Reducing Your Out-of-Pocket Expense

Paying for College: Tips for Reducing Your Out-of-Pocket Expense

Have a child headed to college? The total cost giving you sticker shock?  It’s no wonder—for the academic year 2016-17, the average undergraduate tuition cost was $8,768 for in-state students and $12,114 for out-of-state students. Add in the cost of books, supplies and room and board, and your college freshman is looking at around $21,192 for in-state tuition alone.

That is quite the hefty bill. Here are some tips on knocking down that total out-of-pocket cost a bit.

Financial aid

If you qualify for Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), most times the maximum yearly amount you can receive is $5,500.  That leaves $15,692 for an outstanding balance if we’re working from that in-state figure above.

College savings

If you have participated in a college savings plan for your child, good for you!  You will be able to knock that total down even more. The average family with a 529 savings account, for example, has about a $21,000 balance—that’s a great start toward the costs of a four-year degree.

Payment plans 

Some colleges and universities may be able to provide payment plans.  This could be by semester, quarter or monthly.  Make sure to check to see if there are additional finance fees for the payment plan options.

Work study

Earning and learning is also an option—depending on your finances and the funding available at your child’s school of choice, he or she may qualify for a work-study job.  These positions usually pay at least once a month, but you are limited to the amount you were awarded.

Part-time job

If your student doesn’t qualify for work study, it could be worth your while to look for a part-time job.  With unemployment rates here in South Dakota relatively low, there are many opportunities for the taking.


Think late summer is too late to apply for scholarships? You may be surprised.  There are thousands of private scholarships out there from companies, nonprofits and community groups.  Check out Scholly, a free online service that suggests scholarships for which your student could be eligible. 

Off-campus residence

If the school allows your child to commute and live at home, it can save lots of money.  The average cost for room and board is $10,440 per year at public colleges and $11,890 a year for private institutions.  That can sometimes be just as much as the cost of tuition. 

Private loans

If you are still left with an outstanding balance, private student loans are an option.  Sioux Falls FCU offers loans that carry advantages for good grades; have 30-day, fee-free return policies without interest; and usability on all qualified educational expenses, such as tuition, textbooks, room and board or computers.  (Plus you can even start payment before your child graduates!)

Consider a private student loan. Talk to one of our lenders today, or click here to learn more about your options.

Sources:, College Savings Plan Network, The College Board