Higher education can lead to higher bills and debt. As precious as education is, you shouldn’t have to send yourself to the poor house to educate yourself or your kids. Read on for five tips on saving money at school for the whole family:

1. Buy Textbooks Online. Each semester, most students shell out hundreds of dollars for required textbooks that they’ll use for only the next few months. While some of these books become valued reference materials, typically they’re more of sentimental than practical value. After all, pretty much everything you need to remember – from how to calculate the GNP to how many bones are in the human body – is available online for free.

And speaking of online availability, buying your textbooks online (and selling them back at the end of the semester) can provide a significant cost savings over buying them from the campus bookstore. Textbooks totaled over $400 new may be available online for less than $150. Check out big online textbook shopping centers like,, and

2. Get Your Boss to Pay for It. Thinking about going back to school to get an accounting degree, or simply want to brush up on your French conversational skills? Many businesses offer full or partial reimbursement for classes you take. Better still, some companies offer bonuses for skills than enhance your ability to do your job, such as foreign languages, bookkeeping, and the like. Check to see if you’re eligible – that course you want to take on Italian renaissance painting may be reimbursable!

3. Take the Tax Deduction. If your classes aren’t covered by your employee’s continuing education plan, make sure to deduct eligible expenses from your taxes. Check with your tax preparer or accountant for all the details, but everything from your tuition and books to your campus parking pass may be deductible.

4. Audit classes. If you want the skills but don’t need the college credit, think about auditing classes. Many schools and instructors allow non-students to sit in on the class for no credit. You may not be able to take part in classroom discussions or labs, but if all you want is to absorb the instructor’s brilliance and take advantage of all that knowledge, this might be a good option.

5. Take classes online. Many schools, from Harvard and Stanford to the community college up the road, offer online classes to alums and the general public. Sometimes these classes are for credit, but often they’re just for enrichment. Checking out a few classes online can be a great way to test a new field, check out the offerings at different schools, and get a better sense for the course material before you (or your offspring) commit to a four-year plan.

Now that we’ve saved you a backpack full of money, you may be able to continue your education beyond what you had thought. Or, maybe your children will be able to put a little more effort into their schooling and a little less effort trying to make that extra buck to pay for their schooling. Save money on the things that you can so your education, or your child’s education, doesn’t have to be cut short.


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