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Paying for College

Public Colleges: A Low-Cost Option

Is it time to ask your college kid to transfer to a less expensive school?

If you're really up against it, you might ask your student to make a last-minute application to a more affordable college. Public schools, especially flagship institutions, have been inundated with applications, but a regional public college or a community college might still have a slot.

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Apply now, but keep talking to the financial-aid office of the first-choice school, advises Barmak Nassirian, of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. Pursuing both strategies simultaneously covers your bases.

If your upperclassman is considering transferring, keep in mind that he or she will likely lose credits in the process. The longer it takes to earn a degree, the more you pay. For their part, colleges have good reason to bump up financial aid to students who would otherwise transfer, says Deborah Fox, a college financial planner in San Diego. "They are very concerned about graduation rates. They don't want to lose a student at the end for financial reasons."