There's no question the cost of higher education has reached unaffordable heights for many American families, particularly now that middle-aged parents are dealing with the loss of their retirement savings. Some colleges are drafting new ways for kids to go to college without paying an arm and a leg or having to forgo college as an option altogether.

According to Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, the average cost of higher education has increased approximately 3% above inflation annually. And with salaries staying put or being stripped because of job loss or pay cuts, there's just no way American families can keep up. Here are a few ways some colleges are trying to make higher education a more affordable option.

  • No frills: Students at a private university in New Hampshire can get a 50% cut in tuition or more if they skip amenities and take courses at a satellite campus.
  • Flat fee: Richard Stockton College in New Jersey is offering students a flat rate to take 12 to 20 credits.
  • Going Euro: Some colleges are offering the three-year degree programs commonly seen in European universities.

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