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There are several ways to reduce the amount that going to a college (or career school) will cost, so you can try to avoid borrowing too much.

Tax Breaks
Parents and students can use a federal education credit to offset part of the cost of college under the new American Opportunity Credit which modifies the existing Hope credit for tax years 2009 and 2010. The maximum annual credit is $2,500. For the Lifetime Learning tax credit the maximum is $2,000. This credit is per student, so that all members of your family who attended college are entitled to the credit.

IRS publication 970, “Tax Benefits for Higher Education,” explains these credits and other tax benefits. Certain borrowers can also take a tax deduction for student loan interest. This benefit applies to all loans used to pay for postsecondary education.

For more information, you can go to the IRS Web site at, or call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040, TTY callers can call 1-800-829-4059.

Lower-Cost Schools
If you plan on working toward a bachelor’s degree, you might want to consider starting out at a two-year community college and then transferring to a four-year college. Community colleges are partially funded by local and state taxes and are therefore usually less expensive than four-year colleges. (Note that some four-year colleges are also partially funded by local and state taxes and thus can be less expensive.)

If you decide to go to a community college, you’ll want to make sure that the courses you take there will transfer to the four-year college you want to attend and that those courses will count toward your bachelor’s degree. Advisors from the Dean of Students office can inform you about which courses will most likely transfer.

Working or Volunteering
You can work part time to pay for some of the costs. However, if you do work, make sure that you save enough time for studying and be sure your work and school schedules don’t conflict.

AmeriCorps is a program that allows participants to earn education awards in return for volunteer service. For more information, contact the Corporation for National Service, 1201 New York Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20525, (202) 606-5000; E-mail:, visit

Military Service
The U.S. Armed Forces also offer financial aid opportunities. For more information on recruitment incentives ranging from scholarships, ROTC, Montgomery G.I. Bill, loan repayment programs and more, go to the U.S. Department of Defense Web site at, Click on Benefits then Tuition Support. You can also contact your local recruiter for more information.

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