Money Talks: Creative College Financing

Look just at the sticker price, and four years at a private university these days can easily cost as much as rolls.

But that doesn't mean only the rich need apply.

"You can't shop for a college the way you shop for a car.

If you walk in to buy a car, you aren't going to sit down with a salesman and have them say, you're a good guy, you've lived a good life so far, so we're going to knock another $10,000 off.

That doesn't happen in other kind of purchase other than essentially education," said Jim.

In other words, the cost of a college education isn't always as expensive as stated tuitions, or as news headlines would have you believe.

According to the College Board, while average annual tuition at a four year private college now tops $26,000, over half of all students pay less than 9.

One reason why -- the 168 billion dollars of financial aid that's available..

Which is why step one after choosing a list of schools is to fill this out: a FAFSA, or Federal Application for Student Aid.

So working the system helps students. And so does just plain old working.

"Studies have consistently shown that students that work a moderate number of hours while in school are better academic performers and they're less likely to drop out," said Jim.

And there are other things that can help: get loans forgiven by agreeing to public service work after graduation.

Scour both local and national sources for scholarships with a free search before and during your education.

Bottom line? If you really want that college degree, don't let the sticker shock scare you away.

There's plenty of financial aid out there.