Figuring out how to pay for college can put a lot of stress on a family budget. And for those students who can’t rely on financial support from mom and dad, the pressure can be even greater.

But by rethinking your college experience and breaking it down into two different phases—the first two years at community college and the second two at the four-year university of your choice—you could potentially save yourself thousands of dollars, says NextStudent, a leading Phoenix-based education funding company.

Phase One: Get Your Basics out of the Way at a Community College

Sometimes it’s hard to detach yourself from the education you want versus the one you can reasonably afford. Student loans ( might cover any amount of tuition now, but will you be able to handle your student loan payments once you graduate?

By spending your first two years of school at your local community college, you could save yourself years’ worth of student loan debt. Find out which courses have credits that would be transferable to the four-year school you’d like your diploma from. You can usually take classes at a community college that satisfy all or most of your core requirements and generally pay less per class than at a public or private four-year institution. At a lower cost-per-class, you have greater freedom to experiment with fields of study and try out classes you might not otherwise have been able to afford. The more you see what’s out there, the more likely you are to hone in on the field or profession that truly suits you.

Phase Two: Finish Strong at the University of Your Choice

Once you’ve found your niche, you can move on to a four-year university and take the upper-division courses that apply directly to your major.

By this point you’ll typically be more focused and should be able to get through your classes without the indecision and course-dropping that can plague you during your first two years of college.

By finishing up the second half of your college career at a four-year institution, you’ll graduate with your diploma from that four-year school, just like your classmates, but you’ll likely have paid much less than those students who paid for all four years there.
If you can graduate with less student loan debt, you’ll be starting off on more solid financial ground when you hit the workforce after graduation.

No Matter Where You Start or Finish, NextStudent Can Help Finance Your Education

Whether you begin your college years at a community college or at a four-year institution, NextStudent has a variety of student loans available to you that can help you pay for school. Federal student loans ( and parent loans offer low, fixed interest rates, and there’s no fee to apply. If you still have education-related costs to cover, even after you’ve used all your federal financial aid options, private student loans ( may be the answer you’re looking for.

NextStudent believes that getting an education is the best investment you can make, and we’re dedicated to helping you pursue your education dreams by making college funding simple. Learn more about Student Loans, Private Student Loans ( Student Loan Consolidation ( at

Author's Bio: 

Jeff Mictabor is an enthusiast on the topic of student loan issues in the news. He has been writing for the past 10 years for a variety of education publications. He now offers his writing services on a freelance basis.