With the cost of college growing every year, students need to find ways to save money. These four tips will help you cut the cost of college so you can concentrate on your studies instead of worrying about how much debt you’re accumulating.

Attend an In-state Public College

College tuition is expensive. Some places, however, are more affordable than others. For the 2014-15 semesters, the average tuition and fees for an in-state public four-year college was $9,139. Going to an out-of-state public school costs an average of $22,958. That’s more than double the cost of in-state tuition, but at least it’s better than attending a private nonprofit four-year college, where students spend an average of $31,231

You can save over $20,000 a year by choosing in-state public universities over private colleges

Finish Your Degree on Schedule

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Image via Flickr by NazarethCollege

Despite the high price of tuition, only 19 percent of students at public universities earn their degrees within four years. That means about 80 percent of public university students have to pay tuition for an extra semester or more.

Students who need an extra semester to finish their degree programs can expect to pay about $4,600, roughly half of $9,139, for the privilege. If they attend out-of-state or private universities, they’ll pay exceptionally more.

It’s clear that graduating on time is one of the best things you can do to cut the cost of college.

Buy Used or Rent Your Textbooks

Most high school students have no idea how much their textbooks cost. When they get to college, though, they have to pay for their own textbooks. According to research from College Board, the average student will spend $1,225 per year on books and supplies.

That’s a lot of money for anyone. For many struggling college students, though, it’s a serious burden, especially if they didn’t plan ahead for the expense.

Luckily, there are easy ways to save money on college textbooks. Students who buy or rent textbooks online and who comparison shop for their books through a service like Campus Books don’t pay full price. Students who buy their books can also help fund next semester’s required reading by selling their texts online.

Apply for Scholarships and Grants Every Semester

Getting a scholarship or grant is one of the most effective ways to lower the cost of college. A lot of students, however, just assume that they don’t qualify. That’s a mistake. Students should apply for new scholarships and grants as often as possible.

Not all scholarships require perfect grades. All kinds of organizations and businesses offer scholarship opportunities to students without 4.0 averages. They may choose recipients based on essays, career interests, or volunteerism.

Students should constantly research these opportunities. New scholarships become available every year. The only students who get them are those who find them and apply.

Students should also reapply for scholarships and grants that they didn’t get during previous semesters. Over time, a student’s interests and grades may fall in line with scholarship guidelines. If you don’t reapply, you’ll never know.

It’s free money. Why not take a chance?

These four tips can significantly lower the cost of attending college. Whether you plan to pay out-of-pocket or you’re taking student loans, every dollar you can cut will make college more affordable.