Save on College & Graduate Early

It’s simply math, really. If you can manage it, graduating college in three years instead of four can save you a bundle of money and leave a great impression on potential employers in the process.

OK, that’s a lot to absorb, but here are the details.

First, not too many colleges offer formal three-year undergraduate programs, although the market is shifting a little bit. Franklin & Marshall, University of Caroline-Greensboro and Southern New Hampshire all offer formal three-year graduation programs. And some state governments are starting to get into the act.

The Rhode Island state legislature, for example, recently voted to force its state universities to offer three-year undergraduate degree programs.

Then there’s the general trend of U.S. college students not graduating too soon, but too late. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 38.5% of college students take more than four years to graduate. Conversely, only about 4% of college students graduate in three years.

So besides going against the grain, the exercise of graduating college in three years instead of four is one you’re going to have go through yourself. The good news is obvious — you can save a lot of money by graduating early. At the University of Southern New Hampshire, the average annual tuition is $25,000. That’s an extra $25,000 you save by taking advantage of the school’s early graduation program.

The actual process may be an arduous one, though, depending on your stamina for extra class work and a reduced social life on campus. Typically, the average college student takes about four classes per semester, or about eight per year. A quick look at the math reveals that, to graduate in three years instead of four, you’ll need to take about three extra classes per year to ensure that you can graduate early.

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