Ways to make a college education as affordable as possible
It's true that college is a great investment. but it's also a fact that it's a significant financial commitment for students and their families. However, there are some ways to make getting a degree an even smarter investment, without getting deep in debt.
Go for four (or two)
While most students at public universities take six years to complete their bachelor's degree*, those who can do it in four realize significant savings. In fact, they will spend 40% less than those who graduate in six years.** If you can avoid adding an extra year or two, you will not only save approximately $10,000 in tuition per year,*** you will potentially also be earning $55,000 in salary per year.**** Another option to consider is a two-year associate degree, which can get you into the workforce quickly, in a lucrative and fulfilling field.
NMU has a flat tuition rate, so you can take up to 16 credits/semester for the cost of 12.
At Northern, we highly encourage students to explore different programs and find the right fit. There's nothing wrong with being undecided or changing majors. But it's best to meet with an adviser in our Academic and Career Advisement Center to discuss your goals and options and make a flexible game plan for meeting the requirements and using any credits you've already earned, without adding extra time and expense to your education.
Some programs such as education, nursing, and accounting/corporate finance, will take more than four years to complete, which is something to consider when selecting the major or making financial plans.
Ask and you may receive
Whatever your economic status, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see what loans, grants and scholarships you may automatically be eligible for. Check out scholarships offered through the NMU Foundation. Additionally, doing well in school may open doors to merit scholarships. Also, don't take out more loans than you really need, and only use them for college expenses. Remember, you will have to pay back what you've borrowed.
To drive or not to drive
Is owning a car while at college really necessary? The average vehicle costs $8,000 per year to own and operate (even if you have a junker, it costs around $3,000 per year). The NMU campus is very walkable. And just a few blocks away, there's a grocery store, great restaurants, shops and entertainment. Students can also ride buses for free around campus, to shopping malls and anywhere in the county. Marquette is also known for its great biking.
Earn and learn
Make extra money for your educational expenses, help others and practice for your future by being an on-campus tutor, writing center assistant, resident adviser, help desk technician, food service worker or student employee in a university department, such as history or business. Students who work part-time while going to college actually do better academically than those who don't. Some summer positions are available as well, where students can work up to 40 hours/week. NMU offers a variety of paid internships with partner businesses, too.
Put advanced high school courses or special skills to work for you by earning no-cost college credits through Advanced Placement credit or CLEP exams. Or take advantage of middle college, concurrent or dual enrollment options during high school to earn early college credits.
Learn and Earn Online
Take NMU online courses during the summer to complete your degree more quickly.
Some opportunities that arise during college are well worth the potential extra expense or delay in getting your degree. Studying abroad is one of these. However, many students are able to apply financial aid to their international experience and continue fulfilling their degree requirements without missing a beat. Employers really value graduates with a global perspective. A great internship opportunity far away from campus may also be well worth taking a little longer to graduate.
*Complete College America statistic
**University of Texas at Austin 2013 study
***Based on NMU 2015-16 annual resident undergraduate tuition and fees rate of $9,766
****Projected average starting salary for 2016 college graduates, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers