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Control These Hidden College Costs

Get more financial advice for college at Regions Bank’s Next Step Financial Wellness site.

College is a time for making friends, finding new interests, and expanding your horizons. As you focus on fun, also keep finances in mind, according to financial advisors at Regions Bank.

When it comes to college expenses, food and textbooks are probably some of the first things that come to mind, but what about credit hours? The classes you take—or drop—relate directly to how much you pay over the course of your education.

Getting the most for your money
At most colleges, an undergraduate student has to take an average of 15 credit hours per semester to finish a bachelor’s degree in the standard four-year cycle. Many universities offer a flat tuition rate for students taking between 12 and 18 credit hours per semester.

With this setup, there are financial benefits of taking more classes and staying in them. If you look at the price per credit hour, a student who takes 12 hours is essentially paying 33 percent more for tuition than a student taking 18 hours.

Extra term, extra costs
Taking fewer credit hours can really start to hurt near the end of college. You risk having too few credits to graduate after four years and needing to stay on for an extra term. This, of course, costs more money and may also be outside the terms of any financial aid package you may have.

Failing or skipping class
Along with dropping a class, failing or even skipping class could also have a financial impact.

Failing classes: Scholarships often depend on grade-point average. Failing a class will have a big impact on your GPA and could lead to the loss of any scholarships you have. Even if you can re-take the class and replace the grade, you could still face the financial implications of delayed graduation.

Skipping classes: Some instructors and degree programs have mandatory attendance policies, which means skipping too many classes can hurt your grade. Sometimes, missing a class is unavoidable, but it’s always better to go to class when you can and save your few unexcused absences for when you really need them.

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