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When it comes to paying for college, relying on your savings just isn’t enough.  According to Sallie Mae’s “How America Pays for College 2016”, only 12 percent of college expenses are covered by student income and savings.  Needless to say, you’re going to need a plan to cover the rest of the bill.  Here are some cost-cutting tips to make college more affordable.

Earn college credits while in high school

Every year, over 2 million high school students get a head start on college by taking Advanced Placement classes.  These classes are more demanding than your normal curriculum but it’s worth it because you can earn college credits.  By scoring high enough on the AP exam, you’ll be able to skip some of the introductory classes normally given to college freshmen.  Alternatively, you can take any of the 33 College-Level Examination Program® (CLEP) exams offered by the College Board.  These exams are offered in five different subjects and are worth 3 or more credits.  At $80 an exam, it’s a lot cheaper than sitting through the actual college course.

File your FAFSA starting October 1st

Every student who plans to attend college needs to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) annually.  FAFSA helps determine your eligibility for grants, loans and work-study programs to make college more affordable.  Beginning this year, you can file as early as October 1, 2016 for the 2017-2018 academic year.  Mark your calendar and apply early because some aid is given on a first come, first serve basis with each college setting their own deadline.

Search for scholarships

When hunting for scholarships, don’t limit your search to just academic and athletic awards.  There are many scholarships available to people who can display unique talents.  For instance, high school seniors can win up to $2,000 for the best duck call in the Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest.  Another creative option is the Stuck at Prom Scholarship Contest which awards $10,000 to the couple who creates the best prom outfit using tape.  You can even win a $1,000 scholarship from the Tall Clubs International just for being tall.

Apply to the right schools

According to College Board, the average cost of attending a private college was $32,405 for the 2015-2016 school year.  That doesn’t even include the cost of room and board.  Luckily, there are some schools that aim to help their students graduate with as little debt as possible.  For example, the Webb Institute and Deep Springs College both offer full-tuition scholarships to all of their students.  There are also “work colleges” you can attend for free or reduced rates in exchange for your service. The seven federally recognized work colleges are Alice Lloyd, Ecclesia, Berea, Sterling, Blackburn, Warren Wilson and College of the Ozarks.