Deal Finder: Ways to save $$$ on Higher Education Costs

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By LaTina Emerson, The Shopper Deal Finder

Pursuing a higher education is an investment in your future and will open doors to better job opportunities and greater earning potential. Academic degrees, from vocational, bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate and professional degrees, can come with a hefty price tag, so it’s important to find ways to save on higher education costs and avoid becoming saddled with overwhelming student loan debt.

Here are some ways to reduce the costs of furthering your education, starting in high school:

Dual Enrollment Program

In Georgia, all high school students in grades 9 to 12 who attend a public or private high school or home study program can earn college credit while working on their high school diploma. Through the Dual Enrollment program, eligible students can receive funding for a maximum of 15 semester or 12 quarter hours per term.

The goal of the Dual Enrollment program is to increase college access and completion and prepare students to enter the workforce with in-demand skills. Benefits of the program include:

  • Introduces students to college-level coursework.
  • Earning college credits while in high school could enable students to graduate early and possibly earn an associate degree, diploma or certificate.
  • Allows students to adjust to the college experience (such as classes, coursework and instruction) and ease the transition from high school to college.
  • Participants are more likely to attend college and earn a degree.
  • Enables students to take classes not offered at their high school, particularly in subject areas for a potential career.
  • Demonstrates the student’s ability to handle more difficult coursework, which could be viewed favorably by college admissions officers.
  • Builds student confidence.

Students must sign a participation agreement with their high school or home study program. They are also required to meet the admissions requirements at the participating postsecondary institution of their choice and make suitable academic progress. Interested students should contact their high school counselor and visit https://www.gafutures.org to complete the Dual Enrollment funding application.

In Coweta County, students can apply to attend the University of West Georgia and West Georgia Technical College.

Approved classes may include degree level or non-degree level courses in the five main academic areas (English, math, science, social studies and world (foreign) languages), as well as electives, career, technical and agricultural courses.

For more information about the Dual Enrollment program, visit https://www.gafutures.org/media/187904/dual-enrollment-student-parent-faqs-05-13-19.pdf.

Job-related Scholarships

Having a part-time job can lead to college scholarship opportunities. Some businesses, such as Chick-fil-A and Starbucks, offer scholarships to their employees.

Chick-fil-A offers two types of scholarships to its team members. True Inspiration Scholarships are valued at $25,000, and Leadership Scholarships are valued at $2,500. In 2019, more than 6,000 Chick-fil-A team members received a scholarship. These scholarships can be used at any accredited two-year or four-year college, university or technical/vocational school, as well as for graduate school.

Scholarship awards can be applied to tuition, fees, books and education-related expenses and are paid directly to the school. In addition, more than 100 colleges and universities offer tuition discounts and grants to Chick-fil-A team members.

Scholarship applications for Chick-fil-A team members will open in fall 2020. Applications are evaluated based on the eligibility requirements. For more information, visit https://www.chick-fil-a.com/remarkable-futures-scholarships.

Starbucks-owned businesses are offering the College Achievement Plan to all benefits-eligible employees in the United States, regardless of role, who do not have a bachelor’s degree. The plan gives 100 percent tuition coverage for a first-time bachelor’s degree through Arizona State University’s online program. Students can choose from more than 80 diverse undergraduate degree programs.

Part-time employees establish eligibility the first day of the second month after receiving a minimum of 240 total hours over three full, consecutive months. Arizona State University has six start dates every year: two sessions in the fall semester, two in the spring semester and two in the summer semester. Prospective students should complete the application process at least one month before their preferred start date. For more information, visit https://www.starbucks.com/careers/working-at-starbucks/education.

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