There was an essay in this past Sunday’s Democrat and Chronicle by Robert Rood, an Associate VP of Finance at Roberts Wesleyan College, about minimizing and managing college costs. Rood’s essay, Students need to better manage college costs, has some good suggestions on how to deal with escalating costs. My son is a junior in high school so this is a topic near and dear to me.
My suggestion is to see if your student can get college credit while still in high school. My son is taking a Digital Imaging class which is offered as a dual credit course from Monroe Community College (MCC). The Dual Credit Program is a cooperative program between MCC and area school districts and BOCES that provides the opportunity for high school students to enroll in MCC courses and receive official college credit. Dual Credit courses offer the option of receiving credit for the course on both high school and MCC transcripts. Erie Community College (ECC) offers a similar program called Advanced Studies.
MCC charges $43 per credit hour for dual credit classes versus $128 for traditional classes. MCC also charges a Technology fee for dual credit courses, so for the price of $150 my son will receive credit for one 3-hour course at MCC. The nice thing about this class is my son needs to do nothing special in order to get the MCC credit. This is a way for students to get credit for advanced classes they take in high school that don’t offer an Advanced Placement (AP) exam option.
AP exams (there are currently 34) are taken by students as a means of showing proficiency in a topic. That proficiency is usually equivalent to knowledge gained in a college level course. You are not required to take an AP course prior to taking an exam. The exams costs $87 each, but you will only get college credit if you score at a high enough level, usually a 3 or more out of 5. I was happy to receive college credit for a full year of calculus and a full year of chemistry because of my AP exam results.
You want to weight all your options as your child approaches college. If you want them to leave college without being drowned in debt, then start them thinking about earning college credits when they start high school. They’ll appreciate the money they save by having a few courses under their belt by the time they start school.