Real-life tips on reducing college costs

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Work, save and pay as you go. Attending college isn’t a four-year delay in starting work. Committing to a full- or part-time job can help you save money and pay college bills — like books — as you go. Get involved and stay involved in the community and on campus; scholarships come from many sources, including civic groups in your hometown or organizations on your college campus. I was able to keep myself from getting into debt by focusing on earning scholarships though good grades and community involvement, working and saving as much money as I could.

— Auburn Mayor Jonathan LaBonte

Live at home while attending college. If it works for you, and you are within driving or public transit distance from school, live at home for the first couple of years. It won’t kill you. But parents, you’ve got to loosen the tethers and realize they are in college. It’s hard, but it can work. I know, I did it.

— Sun Journal Senior Designer Heather McCarthy

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Take college courses in high school, during the summer. More high schools are offering more programs for students to take college courses in high school and earn college credit. Some students I’ve written about had goals of getting a four-year college degree in three years, reducing their costs. My frugal niece always took one or two summer college courses to help her graduate early. Smart cookie.

— Sun Journal Staff Writer Bonnie Washuk

Be aware of the financial costs of what you’re signing for. From the beginning, be clear about what the financial packages say. A lot of times there are scholarships for the freshman year that aren’t there the sophomore year. Be clear of the time frame of any scholarships and awards.

— Julia Sleeper, Tree Street Youth

The most expensive option isn’t always the best for you, nor is breaking the bank necessary to find a good job. As a hiring manager who has looked at many resumes in the past few years, I am far less concerned with the institution from which a person graduated, and far more concerned with the quality of a potential employee’s work and the strength of their character. I don’t care if you’ve spent $25 or $250,000 on an education. I care whether you can do the job for which I am hiring you, and whether you have the potential to grow in that position.

— Justin Pelletier, Sun Journal managing editor nights/sports/digital

Jonathan LaBonte

Heather McCarthy

Bonnie Washuk

Julia Sleeper

Justin Pelletier

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