Every Bit Counts: Tips for Reducing College Costs

Female student smiling, holding books and looking over her shoulder.


When it comes to paying for college, every little bit counts. The cost of college can seem daunting, but if you’re proactive, there are many ways to reduce costs. From understanding your options to getting started, GEAR UP is here to help you through it all. Read on to check out our recommendations for how to pay for college. 

Concurrent Classes 

Want to get a head start on your general courses and gain college class experience without paying tuition? For this, concurrent classes are a no brainer. Many high schools in Oklahoma have Early College High School (ECHS) programs that partner with local colleges and universities to provide the opportunity for high school juniors and seniors to earn college credit. High school seniors who meet the eligibility requirements are entitled to receive tuition waivers for up to 18 credit hours, and juniors can receive tuition waivers up to 9 credit hours. That’s a possible 27 tuition-free hours. Scroll to the bottom of the OKCollegeStart 

Concurrent Classes page to see if your high school has an ECHS program! 

Community College 

Did you know that, on average, community college is one tenth of the price of a university?  Attending community college prior to a four-year university is an excellent option to save money.

Flowcharts of ways to save for college.You can save significantly if you get an associate’s degree at a community college and then transfer directly into a university for your third year. Even if you don’t obtain a full associate’s degree at a community college, taking a year’s worth of courses or just a summer class or two will help you save on overall college costs. Read more about community colleges in Oklahoma to see if this is a fit for you. 


Apply, apply, apply! Increase your chances of landing great scholarships by applying early and to as many as possible. No matter your skillset, you might be surprised at the variety of scholarships you are eligible for. From fencing to choir to robotics, and everything in between, there are sc

holarships for you. Not sure where to start? Check out GEAR UP’s recommended scholarship databases. 

Invested Savings  

It’s never too late to start saving for your education. Consider setting up an Oklahoma 529 account with your parents. Contributions made to your Oklahoma 529 account are invested in the market and grow over time, resulting in more savings for your education. Did you know that you do not have to pay taxes on an Oklahoma 529 account earnings, and account holders receive an Oklahoma tax deduction? Learn how to get started today at oklahoma529.com. 

Financial Aid  

Applying for financial aid is a smart decision. Filling out the FAFSA is the only way students can become eligible for federal financial aid. We’ve heard from many students who were surprised by how much aid they received in the form of grants and work-study opportunities, both of which can significantly subsidize the cost of your education and reduce the amount of loans needed. You won’t know how much you can receive until you apply so start your application today! Learn more about the FAFSA and why it’s so crucial by checking out our Q&A with School Specialist Jamie Shanks here. 


If you have questions about any of the recommendations we’ve listed in this blog, reach out to your school specialist today to schedule a meeting. Don’t let the cost of college prevent you from going after the career you want. Take it one day at a time, and you’ll be a college grad before you know it!