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How To Reduce College Costs Before College

529 Tips

How To Reduce College Costs While In High School

Focused on your family’s future, you’ve been dutifully saving for your child’s higher education expenses in Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage. Meanwhile, you keep reading articles showing that college costs are rising. As well as saving in a tax-advantaged 529 plan, your family can take additional steps to reduce higher education expenses before your student heads off to college. In fact, your child can even earn college credits while still in high school.

Your student can accomplish it through two different programs. One is College Credit Plus (CCP), a program offered by the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) and the Ohio Department of Education. With CCP, qualified Ohio students can take college classes and have those credits applied to their high school graduation requirements. Advanced Placement (AP) courses, which are  available at many high schools, are another option. At the end of the AP course, students should have an option to take an exam. Depending on their AP exam scores, they can receive credit for the equivalent entry-level college courses. School districts and individual high schools decide which AP courses to provide. College Board offers the AP program. These two college-credit programs are further explained below.

College Credit Plus (CCP)

Since 2015, ODHE has offered CCP as an opportunity for Ohio students in grades 7-12 to earn college credit by taking classes offered through public community colleges and universities, as well as private colleges and universities. These credits may also count toward their high school graduation requirements.  

Many Ohioans are already taking advantage of the CCP program. For the 2016-2017 school year, over 68,000 students participated in CCP, saving their families more than $140 million in tuition costs. More than 90 Ohio institutions of higher education participate in the CCP program, covering all regions of the state.

If you’re interested in this program, start by meeting with a school counselor. Once your student’s college readiness is assessed, the counselor will help determine the best course of academic action. The next steps would be to talk to and then apply to the college or university from which your student would be taking classes. The college advisor can provide information on the eligible classes available through CCP.

Your student will earn transcripted credit for his or her CCP classes, meaning the grade earned in each college course will be the grade that appears on his or her high school transcript.

CCP students from public or non-public high schools who attend a public college are not required to pay for college course tuition, instructional tools, or supplies under any circumstances. Homeschooled students are responsible for providing their own instructional tools (books), but not tuition or course-required supplies. Homeschooled and non-public students must apply for CCP funding to pay for tuition. Students choosing to attend a private college or university may be charged a small fee by that school. For more information, visit

To learn more about how the CCP program can benefit students, here’s one family’s story of how CCP was used to offset the costs of their daughter’s postsecondary education.

Advanced Placement (AP) Classes

If your student wants to study at a collegiate level while at high school, look into your school district’s AP classes. The courses available will vary by district and at each high school.

These advanced classes give your student an advantage to potentially earn college credits while still meeting his or her high school graduation requirements. At the end of the course, your child will need to take the AP exam in order to receive college credits. A score of 3 or above will earn corresponding college hours at any Ohio public postsecondary education institution.

You (or your child) will have to pay to take the AP exam; however, if your student scores well on it, that expense should cost far less than paying for college tuition.

Visit ODHE for further explanation of the AP process. College Board also offers guidance on the AP program.

Both of these programs – College Credit Plus and Advanced Placement — are great opportunities to reduce college costs before your child pursues postsecondary education. As with Ohio’s 529 Plan, any dollar saved is a dollar that doesn’t have to be borrowed, making it a wise investment of your student’s time and effort. If you haven’t started saving for future higher education expenses, open a tax-advantaged Ohio’s 529 Plan today! Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage, is your plan, your way.

Posted on July 10, 2018

Ohio Tuition Trust Authority

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