1) Start researching for financial aid sooner rather than later. The competition for aid increases when the economy is weak. However, it also helps to check in as the start of the school year gets closer as some schools have emergency funds available as the admissions office gets a better handle on the final attendance numbers as some students withdraw or choose other schools.
2) Take as many AP courses as possible and to excel on the AP exams. High scores on AP exams can save considerably on college tuition. Many colleges award course credits for them, which can significantly reduce your tuition.
3) Apply strategically to colleges. If you exceed the school’s admission criteria, you might be likely to get a better financial aid package than a decent student.
4) Be realistic about how much debt to take on, given the starting salaries for probable majors and career paths. While some students feel they just have to attend pricey, brand-name colleges, a report released by PayScale found that state schools with low tuition offered students the best return on investment, when projected salaries and loans were taken into account.
5) If you have to borrow, pursue federal loans first before taking on private student loans. Also, remember that a private student loan consolidation can help save a significant amount of money after graduation.