10 Ways to Get a Tuition Discount

United States Air Force
United States Air Force

Tuition Costs Aren’t Always Set in Stone, with the growing Cost of Attendance each year, one way to spend less is through tuition discounts. But most families don’t realize tuition discounting is possible,

College aid experts say. In fact, last year, the average tuition price among 411 private colleges was discounted by around 49 percent for the 2017-2018 school year, according to a recent study by the National Association of College and University Business Officers.


Here Are 10 Ways to Get a Tuition Discount


10. Receive a military discount

United States Military Academy at West Point
United States Military Academy at West Point

In addition to using GI Bill benefits, some schools will also cut the price of tuition for student veterans. For example, at the University of Washington, active or reserve members of the U.S. armed forces who are residents can receive up to 50 percent off the in-state rate.


9. See if your school offers a discount on summer courses

Summer School
Summer School

Some schools offer reduced tuition prices for attending classes during the summer. Ohio State University—Columbus, for example, offers 25 percent off for attending a class during the 12-week summer term compared with its tuition prices for the spring and fall semesters.


8. Negotiate with the school for a discount

Colleges With the Biggest Tuition Hikes
Colleges With the Biggest Tuition Hikes

Not all families pay the full sticker price, college admissions experts say. An estimated 78.5 percent of all undergraduates received some form of college aid in 2016-2017 among private colleges, according to a NACUBO study.


7. Check whether the school offers a legacy program

Best Student Discounts
Best Student Discounts

“I’m a big fan of legacy scholarships. Nothing like trading in your college stories for cold, hard cash,” says Orsolini. “I always encourage kids to look at where their parents went.”

The University of Kansas, as an example, offers a legacy discount through its Jayhawk Generations Scholarship. Legacy students with stellar academic records could receive more than $50,000 over four years if a qualifying family member graduated from KU.


6. Apply through a regional exchange program

Quiz yourself
Student working together

Cost-conscious families can also save money on tuition through exchange programs. These regional programs, such as the Western Undergraduate Exchange, the Midwest Student Exchange, the New England Regional Student Program and the Academic Common Market in the South, offer qualifying students a tuition break.

“These are programs where colleges and states have agreed to play nice with each other. If you attend one of these schools in another state, it’s up to 150 percent of their in-state rate,” says Orsolini from College Aid Planners. “You get some tremendous value without having to pay the full out-of-state rate.”


5. Qualify for a hardship tuition waiver

Mental health issues like anxiety or depression can affect student's schoolwork, and can be identified with screenings by the MSU Counseling Center. The Center will be hosting free screening at different locations around campus on Thursday. Lauren Wood/The State News
Student Studying for an exam

If a hardship occurs, such as a parent losing his or her job or a death in the family, college experts recommend asking a school about a hardship tuition waiver. But usually, colleges have specific criteria for these waivers.

At the University of Louisiana—Lafayette, a student must attend full time and be Pell Grant eligible, among other criteria to qualify.


4. Work at the school

Coolest Work Study Jobs on Campus
Coolest Work-Study Jobs on Campus

While work-study is one way to pay for college, other jobs on campus can reduce the cost. Working as an employee at a prospective school before attending there as a student is another way to offset tuition. Some institutions, experts say, may waive or reduce tuition for an employee who is attending classes.

Working in the public sector in some states may also be enough for a tuition waiver. That’s the case at Florida State University.


3. Obtain a discount through a family member’s workplace

The Best Place To Work In USA 2020
The Best Place To Work In USA 2020

Oftentimes, the spouse, child or grandchild of a university employee will qualify for a tuition discount at some schools. “It’s usually about some organization that is affiliated with some college in some form or another,” says Joseph Orsolini, founder of Chicago-based College Aid Planners.

In some cases, a school will offer discounts to children of federal employees. University of Maryland University College offers a 25 percent “Federal tuition discount” to out-of-state families with a federal employee.


2. Get a tuition waiver based on income level

How To Choose the Right Tuition Payment Plan
Tuition Payment Plan

While families with low income will qualify for federal financial need-based aid, some colleges chip in extra cash in the form of tuition waivers. In New Jersey and California’s Stanford University, Princeton University, to name a couple, both offer free tuition to households who fall below a certain income threshold.

To qualify for the waiver at Stanford, as an example, the student’s parents must have less than $125,000 in both income and assets, according to the school’s website.


1. Attend a tuition-free school

United States Air Force
The United States Air Force

A handful of schools offer free tuition to admitted students, but usually, these schools require on-campus work. Students at the College of the Ozarks in Missouri, for example, must work on campus 15 hours a week in addition to two 40-hour work weeks during semester breaks.

Other tuition-free colleges, such as the United States Air Force Academy and the United States Naval Academy, require service in the U.S. armed forces after graduation.