How to Save Money By Taking General Education Classes First

How to Save Money By Taking General Education Classes First

Financial planning for college is a must. Students who attend public 4-year colleges spend more than $25,000 for one academic year, roughly $9,300 of that going for tuition alone. If you live out of state, the costs soar even higher, with the average student paying $27,000 just for tuition.

The good news is you can pursue ways to bring tuition costs down. You can apply for financial aid, pursue scholarships, volunteer for organizations, and work with certified college planning specialists. But there’s more—did you know you can also save money by taking general education (core) classes first? Let’s take a look at ways to use this strategy to reduce the overall price tag on your college tuition.

Dual Enrollment

Dual enrollment is an opportunity to earn both high school and college credits at the same time. Most of the subjects offered are general education classes required to meet most college degree criteria, including English, math, social studies, science, and humanities. Dual enrollment is a great chance to earn credits for general education classes and the costs are far lower than paying for these at college tuition-level prices (and a 529 saving plan can be used for dual enrollment tuition).

Important to know: Check with your colleges to make certain they’ll accept dual enrollment courses (not all do, but public colleges may be more likely).

AP Classes

AP classes are college-level classes taught by high school teachers and you take them at your high school. At the end of the course, you take an exam—these exams are graded on a 1 to 5 scale. You typically have to pass with at least a 3 for colleges to accept your course, but a 4 or 5 score is more widely accepted. This is a great way to save money because you can walk into college with several required general education course credits under your belt and the only cost is for the AP exam.

Important to know: Check with colleges to see if they limit the number of AP credits they’ll accept since some require a certain level of “hours sitting in the college classroom”. Colleges also sometimes place other restrictions on AP credits.

Community College

Community college is a great way to cut costs on your overall tuition costs. By taking general education courses at community college, you can save a ton of money. Since you’ll have to take these core classes at your 4-year college anyway, you can earn a 2-year degree and transfer out (or alternatively at least knock a few gen ed credits out). If you earn your Associate’s degree, in some cases, you may also receive guaranteed admission to public state college systems.

Take Gen Ed Classes First

Regardless of the college you choose, plan to take gen ed classes first since all degrees require them and they’re transferable between degrees. You’d be surprised to learn how many students take degree-specialized courses first and then change their minds on the degree they want to pursue. Knock general ed classes out of the way first, then delve into the degree-specific courses—if you do change your degree, it’s a costly decision.

Bottom line, a general education class is going to teach you the same knowledge no matter where you take it. You may as well earn those credits in ways that save significant dollars.

Accolade Financial helps students and their families find the best options to help finance higher education. To learn more, schedule an appointment today.