The Best College Aid: 7 Ideas to Earn College Credit Cheap

College can be fun if you have the money and the time. What if you don’t? I have seven college aid ideas to save money, save time, and earn more credits. I’ve used a few of these myself, and they work great.

College Credit Options

1. If you are still in high school, you can test out of classes. This is serious mojo: when you have already taken calculus, European history, American history, English Language, or many more, so you take the advanced placement exam.

Does this work? Like a charm, if your college accepts them as credit or at least to skip a class. I used this for a bunch of classes, and I know many others who have as well.

I took the Spanish language test with a friend from Costa Rica who had moved to our area during high school. I was happy I passed with a 3, but for him it wasn't even a challenge.

2. The second way to do this is the College Level Equiv. Prog., for instance. These tests cost little and have wide acceptance. Check to see if you school offers the tests.

You could earn the money for the tests by washing cars, babysitting, mowing lawns, or something else. These are broad programs with thousands of participating schools. Talk about a standard.

3. Another idea to look at: Online Classes. It used to be called independent study. This can help you if you really know your subject. You pay the fee for an online class, and then take the class.

You can do the assignments fast, since you already know your stuff. Turn everything in as quickly as the school allows, then take the test. You get out of the class quickly and for minimal hassle, and no class time.

The cost depends on your school, cost per credit hour and so on. 4. In-house Programs: A fourth option for this great way to skip college classes but get credit: check with your university. The school itself may have an in-house program to help. See if you can test out by asking your department, your professors, your counselor, and your friends. This can work great - get credit but don’t take the class! Sweet. Low cost college aid.

Or, just enroll in online classes and take them in your spare time. You can even earn an online degree now, with tons of programs available. See my page on online college degrees to get more information and find a program for you.

Alternative Credits

The next two don't require class. And they don't require testing. What do you have to do? Take a look.

5. Portfolio Evaluation or Life Credit. In this, the university evaluates your experiences and gives you college credit for them. Expect the college to have some limits to this, such as 30 credits. And you will probably have to pay a fee. You’ll find many colleges have a portfolio or life credit program.

To make it work well, quiz the professor or department handling the evaluation. Find out what they want to see, how the evaluation works. Then, tailor your portfolio to the evaluation. Don’t misrepresent yourself, but do find the best way to present your work, to organize it for optimum results.

This type of college aid can really put you ahead, since you won’t have to take a class if you qualify. Each school has different programs. Check with yours or the one you want to attend if it is important to your plans.

The school will either award you with credits equivalent to one or more classes, or will exempt you from requirements. While credit seems better, exemption brings privileges and opportunities as well. It gives you room in your schedule to take that class you normally wouldn’t have time for, like dance, choir or take calligraphy like Steve Jobs. Or you could pursue a minor.

Most universities limit this type of college aid. Some schools that have given unlimited life experience credit have come under fire for their practices. Lately, I have seen that the limit is about 15 credits or so.

6. Work Credit: Instead of Life Credit, colleges have another version called Work Credit. You can get credit for work you have done, positions you have held. The evaluation information above will come in handy here as well. Find out what makes the program work, what qualifies for credit. Present yourself in the best possible light, while being genuine.

By showing that you have accomplished and learned what the school teaches in a class or several classes, you can earn credits toward graduation. They just have to see that you know the material.

One quick way to apply this for older, more experienced students: if you have ever taken a class at work, especially a technical class, apply for work credit. A class you take as a one week seminar then use on the job might translate into 3 credits of college towards your degree, and eliminate a class plus tuition and books.

One Last College Aid Idea for New Students

And one last idea for the younger crowd or those just getting ready to go to school.

Entrance Exams: . Your college entrance exam can be critical, whether the SAT or the ACT, so consider retaking it. If you have a great score and you are happy with it, never mind.

But if you can improve your score significantly, think about it. A better score might eliminate some basic requirements like a math class or another class by retaking it.

I have found that many schools require a basic math class if you don’t score high enough on your entrance exam. Also, many in-house college aid programs and scholarships depend on the exam as well. If you retake, you may qualify. You can only do this before you go. It isn’t huge, but it helps a little with how many classe you have to take in college.

To do this right, you need to know you will get a better score. Study, practice your weak points, and then take a full practice test if at all possible. You should leave a couple of weeks between the dry run and the actual test so you can polish anything that still needs work.

College Aid Without The Money...

Try some of these ideas. You can get credit without the cost, or at least without the class in many cases. And when you need college aid in real money, you can find ideas on this site as well. Under the right circumstances, a student loan can be just the way to finish.

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