College Costs for Average American Family: $23,757

With the price of college still on an upward trajectory, families are looking for ways to make higher education affordable.

According to “How America Pays for College,” a report by Sallie Mae, the average American family spent $23,757 on college costs in 2017.

Six Strategies to Make College More Affordable

Here are some ways families are reducing their college costs:

• Live at home. The report found 50% of students live with their parents or relatives.

Wayne Hanson, Membership Development Manager at Mid Oregon Credit Union, lived at home for his first three years of college: “I was able to commute to school, and work near school 25-35 hours a week. I know education has gotten a lot more expensive since then, but I paid for all my education and had more money when I finished school than when I started.”

• Cut the pricey top picks. Nearly 70% of families eliminated colleges during the application process due to their high price tags, up from 58% in 2008. About 73% are choosing an in-state school.

Central Oregon has two great colleges, with different cost structures. While freshmen now have the option of starting their college life at OSU Cascades, many successful OSU graduates made Central Oregon Community College (COCC) their choice for the first two years. Besides a top notch education, COCC is a less expensive option.

Making Good Use of College Time

• Take a student job. At least 76% the students surveyed reported planned to work while in college, with 55% working year-round.

In Central Oregon, we have a shortage of job applicants in many industries and at many employers. It’s a good time to find work as a student, especially if you can flex your school schedule to work. There are also internships available– many paid- which can get your foot in the door for a long-term, paid position after.

• Finish quicker. Nearly 26% of students enrolled in accelerated courses while in high school to pay for fewer semesters in college.

Ask the career counselors at your high school to see which courses qualify for college credits. There are a lot of opportunities in Central Oregon high schools.

Sources of Funds

• Use grants and scholarships. Families reported covering about 35% of their school bills with grants and scholarships—the biggest portion of their payment sources. About 87% of these scholarships come from the schools.

• Start a college-savings plan. In 2016-17, 13% of families used the 529 tax-advantaged college-savings plan, with an average amount of $10,031. See Mid Oregon Credit Union about starting a college-savings plan today.