Strategies to Decrease the Cost of College #9 Tuition Banding

Rule of 120/126

Successful businesses leverage the 80/20 rule. Investors the rule of 72. You can use the rule of 120/126 to save on college costs.

What is the significance of 120 and 126? To graduate with a four-year college degree generally requires 120 to 126 completed credits.

Back when I went to school the majority of colleges charged tuition by the credit. The current trend – a banded (flat rate) tuition model. The most common model is to charge the same rate of tuition for between 12 – 18 credit hours.

At the University of Minnesota (UMTC), for example, you are charged the same tuition if you take 13 or 15 or 19 or 25 credits in an academic term. You don’t need to be a Math major to leverage the rule of 120/126!

U. Minnesota
U. Minnesota Twin Cities

Anyone can save $15,000 on the cost of a UMTC degree How? Simple math. Multiple 18 by 7. You get 126. Enroll in 18 credits per semester at the UMTC (or many other colleges) and you can graduate in 7 semesters. Savings = $15,000 (based on estimated Fall 2019 cost of attendance).

Today, it takes the average student 5.2 years (basically 11 semesters) to graduate. Is it any wonder so many students leave college with huge amounts of student debt. Every semester beyond the fourth year is typically funded by student loans…

Failing to follow the basic Rule of 120 = more $$$ for your degree.

UW Eau Claire
UW Eau Claire

It’s not hard to graduate in four years. 15 credits represent a typical academic load. 8 * 15 = 120.

Never, never, never fall below 15 credits per term – you would be surprised by the number of students who do and end up paying more for a college education than necessary.

Fall 2018 Cost of Attendance at UW – Eau Claire for an MN resident taking between 12 – 18 credits is $20,289. Don’t pay an extra 20+ grand for your degree, i.e., 8 * 15 = 120.

I know, I know. Not every student is equipped to handle 18 credits per term. And you have to sequence courses correctly to graduate in 7 semesters. And life does happen, so sometimes 15 credits a term is not feasible, but…

Sprinkle in a summer class at a local community college (at lower tuition rates). A dash of AP or PSEO in high school. A J-Term course. A planned transfer. Etc. Anyone can cook up savings using my rule of 120/126.

You have choices!