How to Save Money on College Visits
College visits can be expensive. Touring a few college in a city a plane ride away with one parent can cost thousands of dollars. With college tuition costs as high as they are, families are looking to save in any way they can. Below read eight tips to help you save thousands of dollars on you college visits.
Get Colleges to Pay for Them Many colleges are willing to fund students’ campus visits, particularly those who colleges are actively trying to recruit (athletes, low-income, and minority students). Schools will pay for your travel expenses (including airfare) along with your lodging once you’re there. The catch is parents’ expenses are not usually covered. Check out this list of colleges for more information.
Start Close to Home Make the first college visit at a local college. It will help give you an idea of what college visits are like and what you might want or not want in a college without spending boatloads of money and time on travel and lodging.
Be Efficient Map your route to get to the most colleges in a shorter amount of time. You can fit two and sometimes three college visits in each day if they’re all close together. For example, if you visit Boston, you can tour Harvard, MIT, Emerson, Tufts, Boston University, and Boston College all in three days. You’ll spend less on hotels and save on transportation.
Visit Selectively You don’t need to visit 50 colleges. Do good research on colleges you might be interested in. Look at each college’s website. See if they offer a virtual tour and take it if it’s available. Read College Prowler, Unigo, and College Confidential to get an idea of what colleges might be a good fit for you. Try visiting colleges after you’ve narrowed down your list to an absolute maximum of 15 schools that you might apply to. This will prevent you from wasting time and money on visiting colleges you don’t really want to go to.
Visit After Decisions There are ways to demonstrate interest to colleges besides visiting. Colleges know these visits are very expensive, often far away, and inaccessible to many families. So instead of making visits during your junior year, you can try demonstrating interest to colleges by speaking with professors, emailing admissions officers, and attending local fairs. Once decisions come out, you can then visit colleges you’re accepted to. This prevents you from spending money on colleges you won’t attend.
Check for Discounts Some hotels will give discounts to families visiting colleges. For example, Best Western gives 15% discounts to families visiting Boston College. Check with each college before visiting to see if they offer any discounts.
Carpool This might sound silly but it’s actually a great idea. Is a friend visiting a college you’d like to see? Ask if you can tag along if they’ve got an extra seat in their car. Offer to do the same if you’re going on a college visit. This can be really fun and can help save money.
Go Alone If parents are willing to let their children visit colleges on their own, this can be a great cost-saving strategy. Colleges aren’t concerned with parents’ demonstrated interest, just the students’, so students won’t be negatively affected in admissions if their parents aren’t present. The downside is that parents won’t get the chance to see the college their child might attend.
Have any other money-saving tips? Share with us in the comment box below!