My college experience was somewhat unconventional, I attended a two-year college before finished my college career at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. By utilizing the transfer program, I was able to complete college with no debt and a degree from a highly ranked university. I’d like to share with you more about my transition to four-year university, why I decided this path was the best choice for me and why it could potentially be a great path for you!

Whether you are facing college expenses for yourself or seeking to fund your child’s education, it’s no secret that seeking to minimize the overall liability is a universal goal. With the sticker price for a bachelor’s degree costing upwards of $100,000, higher education is clearly a significant expense. If there were a way to receive the same degree for less money, you would likely opt for that route, wouldn’t you? Well, if done properly, you could save thousands of dollars by first attending a community college, and that is exactly what I did!

Here in Madison, Madison Area Technical College has a program called the “liberal arts transfer”, this program provides a foundation for higher education, giving students exposure to several areas of study. They have even developed transfer contracts between certain four-year universities that guarantee acceptance as long as the contract requirements are met. This program has been developed for students to save money, live a more flexible lifestyle and have the ability to take courses while still working.

You do not begin to dive deep into your narrowed academic path until your junior year, and the first two years of a college education is overwhelmingly similar. As a freshman and sophomore you are completing the same elementary and elective courses to meet general requirements, whether you are at a two year college or a highly ranked four-year university. The difference being, the courses taken at the two-year college are significantly more affordable than those of a four-year university.  

This unconventional route generates more savings than simply expenses related to tuition and fees. Living expenses are also a significant expense associated with college that can be reduced through this path. While many four-year universities require a minimum of 2 years living on campus, attending a two year college eliminates this requirement and gives you additional flexibility to choose your living situation, and avoid the inflated living expenses that go along with living on campus. In my case, I was able to continue living with my family throughout my first two years, this minimized my living expenses significantly! While this situation may not always be an option, seeking more affordable housing that is not necessarily on campus is still a great and less expensive option than campus housing.

Here I am, a graduate with a bachelors of science from an accredited university for less financial obligation than if I would have attended it for all four-years. I was able to avoid taking out loans and growing my debt by simply lowering the overall expenses that I had through the transfer program. With the flexibility of courses, I was able to continue to work full time while also attending school full time. This, along with being able to stay at home and lower my personal living expenses, I was able to save a significant more money than the average college student. By making this decision, I received the same degree as my fellow classmates; I simply took a different path to get there.


Post Authored by Hanna Kaufman

Disclosure:Hanna is an unregistered intern with Walkner Condon Financial Advisors. As she is not registered as an investment advisor representative (IAR), this post is not to be construed as investment advice, nor should you act on this post without discussing your particular situation with a trusted financial advisor. Any questions on this post should be directed to our Chief Compliance Officer, Clint Walkner.