Start planning early to save on college tuition. Capable, diligent students can take an active part in reducing their class time and tuition costs while they’re still in high school. Of course, they have to be willing to put forth a diligent effort, but the results can be quite rewarding, both academically and financially.
In a previous article I explained that the College Board, the same organization responsible for the SAT, also designs and administers Advanced Placement Exams. Most high schools include AP courses in their curriculum. Students, typically those in grades 11 & 12, usually need teacher recommendations to enroll, as these courses parallel introductory college classes. The coursework is more accelerated or detailed than that in honors courses, so students should be fully aware of the time commitment before they enter the AP class. However, the outcome can be substantially more worthwhile. Students who receive college credit have the opportunity to move more quickly into upper level courses when they enter college. They can graduate from college early or even double major if they have earned a number of college credits while still in high school.
From a financial standpoint, these AP courses are quite rewarding. The average per credit course at a state university ranges from $350-$500. For private colleges and universities, the per credit cost is much higher, at least $1500. Each college course is 3 or 4 credits, so the savings are quite substantial. Thus, a high school student who earns AP credit for a class can potentially save his parents $1000-$6000!
The College Board offers 34 different courses. Advanced Placement courses must follow a curriculum established by the College Board, because the exams that occur at the end of the course are national. The focus of the courses includes problem solving and strong communication skills, especially in writing. The exams occur in May. They are scored on a 1-5 scale. Many colleges accept a minimum score of 3. Students should check with their guidance counselors to determine which AP courses the school offers, and which ones might benefit them the most. They may be able to start college with several courses already on their transcripts.