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Negotiate Tuition Before You Pick a College

BOSTON (TheStreet) -- As winter approaches, so do deadlines for college applications.

Whether you're a high school student or an adult looking to return to academia, there's a strategy that can reduce sky-high tuition costs. Simply put: haggle.

That is the strategy suggested by Jerry Slavonia, founder of Campus Explorer.com, a site that offers searchable reviews and advice for prospective college students. His site aims to offer as much detail on the 8,000 schools and educational centers in the U.S. as popular college guides.

"You can search a beauty school in Lincoln, Neb., or you can search on Harvard. It's really going to be based on your profile and your needs," he says. Slavonia and his team started the site after past successes with Rent.com (purchased by eBay (EBAY) in 2005 for more than $400 million), Stamps.com and Citysearch.

While consumers usually comparison shop and negotiate when buying cars, they rarely apply that approach to education. Slavonia says anyone selecting a college should weigh the value of a school versus the cost to attend. He says it's easier than ever to negotiate lower tuition costs.

"The 'echo boomers' are graduating from high school," he says. "So there's actually going to be a decline in the number of students enrolling in college. There is overcapacity, so to speak, in the post-secondary system. It's a perfect storm."

Complicating matters for these institutions is that the average high school student applies to as many as 10 colleges. This skews the ratio of students accepted to students enrolled.

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