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How to save thousands of dollars on college tuition

College Tips:
Want to Save Thousands of Dollars - Just One Suggestion
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It may seem obvious, but the best way to save thousands of dollars on your college education is to graduate in four years (or less).  Adding even one extra semester can cost thousands of dollars in tuition, housing, and college living expenses plus the lost income from entering the job market at a later time.

Unfortunately, the dirty little secret of most colleges and universities is that a vast number of students do not graduate college in four years.  During open houses, most admissions officers will not even quote four year graduation rates.  If pressed, sometimes they may provide a six year graduation statistic.  According to the most recent published data from the National Center for Education Statistics, less than 40% of first-time, full-time students at 4-year postsecondary institutions graduate within four years*.

One suggestion for graduating in four years is to make a plan.  While that may sound simple, it requires work to design a four year plan that accounts for gen-ed requirements and the requirements of one or more major(s), minor(s), and/or certification(s).  Any plan needs to take into account pre-requisite classes, co-requisite classes, and account for courses that are offered only once a year.  Moreover, any multi-year plan needs flexibility because scheduling conflicts and class availability can become an issue during any given semester’s registration process.

If you start college “undecided” or with an “undeclared” major, having a plan is even more important.  You need to ensure that every class you take satisfies a gen-ed requirement or is a pre-requisite or requirement for a course in one of your likely majors. You need to keep your future options open so that you will have time in your schedule once you declare your major.

If you are still in high school, it’s not too early to have a plan. AP courses, dual credit/dual enrollment classes, and International Baccalaureate courses are a great way to enter college with college credits already on your transcript.  In addition to the obvious benefit of having credit for specific courses, if you “bank” enough courses, you may appear in the registration system as a semester or year ahead and can often register for classes before all of your peers and avoid the frustration of being locked out of a class you need to take.  It is important, however, to check with potential universities to understand their specific policies for AP/IB credits, transfer credits, and any specific restrictions that may apply to your intended major and any overall limits that may exist.

The METIS Planner was designed specifically for busy college students and has you covered when it comes to creating a four year course plan.  The Comprehensive 4-Year Course Planning and Tracking Tool is just one of the many Supplemental (Bonus) Downloads that are included with the METIS Planner Full Digital Access Edition.

See our Order Now Page to purchase a print at home version of the METIS Planner with full digital access to all supplemental/bonus downloadables. 

* This statistic is from The Digest of Education Statistics by the Institute of Educational Sciences, According to their website,


The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is the statistics, research, and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Education. We are independent and non-partisan. Our mission is to provide scientific evidence on which to ground education practice and policy and to share this information in formats that are useful and accessible to educators, parents, policymakers, researchers, and the public.


   Specifically, the data point is from the following table:

Table 326.10. - Graduation rate from first institution attended for first-time, full-time bachelor's degree-seeking students at 4-year post-secondary institutions, by race/ethnicity, time to completion, sex, control of institution, and acceptance rate: Selected cohort entry years, 1996 through 2008 (