An Inexpensive Education

by Wayne A. English

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Getting an education is an expensive thing, right? Not necessarily. While it can not be obtained free of charge, there are ways to minimize the cost while obtaining a first class education at a good school.

Many parents drive their kids, and themselves, crazy in the mad rush to get them accepted at a four-year school, the "right" college, immediately after high school. There is another, lower cost, alternative. One that will result in your son or daughter obtaining an Associate Degree as well as a Bachelors degree. Better yet, you can likely use this technique where you live now, right in our own backyard. Who could ask for more?

Let other people spend money on educational consultants, travel, and what-not. Not you, because you know what those parents don't: You do not need to send you son or daughter to a four year college for all four years. Let him or her take the first two years, and get an Associate degree, at a two-year school. Then, as a Junior with a degree, transfer to a four-year school and complete the Bachelor degree. Your son or daughter's degree will be just as good as that obtained by someone who attends all four years at a four year school.

It is far less expensive to have your son or daughter go to a local two-year college and then go on to a four-year school than to do the entire four years at the four-year school. Just what do you think your child will be studying in the first two years anyway? Yes, largely the same subjects that will be taken at the expensive school.

Here is an example of a four-year school, the University of Connecticut, versus a two year school, Manchester Community College (MCC), located in Manchester, Connecticut about a 30-minute drive from the University of Connecticut's main campus in Storrs.

The University of Connecticut,, undergraduate estimated expenses as of Fall 2013:

Yearly UCONN cost for out of state student:

Tuition: $28,204
University and Student Fees: $2,766
Residence Hall (average): $6,278
University Meals (7-day program): $5,444
Estimated yearly expenses: $42,692

Yearly UCONN for an in state student:

Tuition: $9,256
University and Student Fees $2,766
Residence Hall (average): $6,278
University Meals (7-day program): $5,444
Estimated yearly expenses $23,744

Manchester Community College yearly costs, as of Fall 2010:

Tuition and fees: $1893
Tuition and fees, out of state student: $5659
Dorm fees: None, all students commute
Meal Plan: None

To be fair, students commuting to UCONN would not pay residence hall and meal costs. In that case, the difference would be tuition and fees only. Still a sizeable sum.

Other Benefits

Your child will have an additional two years while living at home to mature and learn how to deal with the pressures of college and studying. Further, you will not spend money on dormitory and food service fees. Your son or daughter will be able to work at a local part-time job in a familiar environment saving money for a car, computer, tuition, educational travel, or a four-year education.

Should your son or daughter not be able to complete a four-year program, he or she will have an Associate Degree. As opposed to being forced to leave a four-year school with nothing and being viewed as a college drop out.

For The Truly Cash Strapped

If you have little money for education, this solution will allow you to get an education. While not easy, it is a viable technique that many people have and continue to use. So, just what is this magic bullet?

Work and Go to School

Find a job with a company offering educational reimbursement as part of their benefits package. The downside is that working days and going to school nights is not easy, but that's okay. You've got brains and guts aplenty and hard work doesn't scare you. This works, my friend. And, make no mistake, it can work for you. Whatever route you choose, get your education. If it takes a longer than going to school full time, that's fine. Let nothing stop you, do this while you're young and, hopefully, before marriage and other life changing events get in the way. It is the single best thing you can do for yourself. Good luck.

Updated August 2013

Wayne is a freelance writer with local, national, and international publications.

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