"How to Start Saving Thousands on College Tuition"

The idea of paying for college tuition can be daunting to so many families preparing for their son or daughter to go off to college someday, but it doesn't have to be! There are several ways that families can save on college tuition costs early if they have the right information and tools. Here are some helpful tips that families can start thinking about to save money before their child embarks on the journey of post-secondary education:

Tip 1: Look into Advanced Placement (AP) Course Options

The College Board’s Advanced Placement Program (AP) offers college-level study in a wide range of subjects and allows you to earn college credit if you score high enough on AP Exams. AP courses stress deep learning and critical thinking; similar to taking a college level course. Advanced Placement (AP) offers more than 30 college-level courses in subject such as English, history, humanities, languages, math, psychology and science. On average, a student can save an upward of 19,000 on tuition by taking AP courses while still in high school.

Tip 2: Help Motivate your Child to Keep Grades Up
Although having a high GPA is not a direct way to save or earn money, it can definitely help cut college costs and make it easier to pay off your tuition fees. Getting good grades early in high school will help you become eligible for more scholarships and grants and can make it easier to qualify.

Tip 3: Research Dual Enrollment/Concurrent Courses Opportunities

Some high school students start their college studies while still in high school by taking day, evening or weekend classes at a local college. Many colleges also have summer opportunities where students can participate and earn college credit. Talk to your son/daughter's school counselor to find out which options for earning college credit may work. And discuss what colleges you want to attend will accept your credits.

Tip 4: Apply for Scholarships Early
You certainly don't have to wait to become a junior or senior to start applying for scholarships. There are many opportunities for students to apply at any level in high school, which include: academic, athletic, or artistic scholarships. Check with your School Counselor to obtain a list of ones you may be eligible apply for, and on scholarship sites such as: http://fastweb.com, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/scholarship-search, and http://scholarships.com.

Tip 5: Start a 529 College Plan
A 529 Plan is an education savings plan operated by a state or educational institution designed to help families set aside funds for future college costs. 529 Plans can be used to meet costs of qualified colleges nationwide. There are two types of 529 plans: pre-paid tuition plans and college savings plans. Talk to your bank or financial advisor to get more information about the 529 plan and what works best for your family.

Whitney Patterson, NCC, M.ED. of Pittsburgh, Pa., has been a professional high school counselor since September 2009. She has been instrumental in developing and implementing innovative virtual communication tools to effectively communicate and build rapport with students across the state of PA. She holds a Master of Education in Counselor Education and a Bachelor of Science in Communications Media from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Her certifications include Secondary School Counselor, National Certified Counselor, ASCA College Admissions Specialist, ASCA School Leadership Development Specialist, ASCA Legal and Ethical Specialist, ASCA Bullying Prevention Specialist and ASCA School Counseling Data Specialist. She has appeared on KDKA Pittsburgh Today Live for her segment on “Expert Tips on Getting the Most out of a College Visit” and she has also received national recognition from the American School Counseling Association in July of 2015 for the commitment, contribution, and dedication to the profession of school counseling. The title of her breakout session was called ‘The School Counselor in the Cyber World, and the main goal of the session was to educate the professionals on how a school counselor educates and connects with students within the cyber world.