There isn’t a parent I have met who wasn’t worried about the cost of college. What’s the point of getting them there, they say, if they can’t afford to pay the bills?
It’s all true. College isn’t getting any cheaper. Tuition rates continue to rise absent cost-of-living increases for American employees and those barely making ends meet to begin with. I wince at the cost myself, and thank my lucky stars I finished back when grades really meant something and waivers were more common. There are reasons why community colleges are expanding so rapidly — one is because they’re a budget-friendly solution for those who can’t afford to go anywhere else.
The good news, though, is that homeschool grads often have a leg up when it comes to financing more expensive colleges. Due in large part to the successes of homeschoolers and the quality of the preparation they receive, many manage to get there on a shoe string.
Here’s how they do it:
I think everyone knows that homeschoolers are good at saving. Or at least not spending. The reason we have the reputation of living on less and cutting corners is because we’ve earned it. Aside from inexpensive living, some even manage to sock money away for college as well. Talk to these families and they’ll explain how they routinely forego professional haircuts and buying anything new for 20 years so they can contribute to the college fund instead. There’s no way to sugar-coat it — it isn’t easy. But they’re doing it. I tip my hat for the discipline this requires.
Getting credit for college courses taken during high school years is another way. And it’s far more common than many people realize. It used to be that a kid who earned an Associates — even a Bachelors degree – before the 18th birthday was an anomaly. Not so much any more. Today’s homeschoolers take college courses all the time. They attend on campuses, online, and earn credits by testing out. The credits add up to free tuition before the student even fills out a college application. Research confirms what we’re seeing, finding graduates from homeschool entering colleges with more credits than kids who weren’t homeschooled. Making sure kids are ready for early college is the key, and thousands of homeschool parents are making sure their students are ready to unlock that door.
Like early college, statistics show that homeschoolers get more of these, too. It’s no wonder, with homeschool test scores exceeding the national average by some 20-30% or even more. Homeschoolers are better prepared for college, thus they earn more merit-based scholarships to pay for it. Many are broke, too, earning them more needs-based financial aid as well. Not to mention that a college search is a lot like a curriculum search, and homeschoolers are very, very good at that. Searching for college money falls squarely within the homeschool parent job description. Families make it their mission to scout out as many scholarships as possible, and they know how to market students so they outshine other applicants.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the rumblings of a new revolution happening right beneath our feet. It’s all about sending colleges the message, “We’re not gonna take it any more”, and it’s growing faster than I ever imagined it could. I think it’s called “un-college”, and what it means is not attending a fee-based college at all. Hundreds of people are already deciding not to spend the next 30 or 40 years in servitude paying student loan debt, and are self-educating college instead. Web sites like Zero Tuition College, Uncollege, and Udemy make it possible, promising a college “degree” to anyone who can prove they’ve done the work. Enter other places like Academic Earth, where top colleges offer lectures to anyone with an Internet connection, and a keen interest and some outside work earns you a free college education. After years of learning on ones own through homeschooling, home college doesn’t seem like such a far-fetched idea.