A college education can cost as much as a small mortgage. But, there are several ways to reduce the price of the college education sticker. These tips can help you find a cheaper college.

[See also How To Pay Less For College for additional tips.]

Tips for getting college credit before college

Take Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) Where College Level Examination Program (CLEP) high school tests to earn college credits.

Double registration Programs can allow high school students to take college courses at a nearby college and make the courses count towards both high school completion and college.

Unfortunately, some of these programs will only count towards general college credit and will not meet the prerequisites.

Tips for finding a cheaper college

Use a net price calculator to get a personalized estimate of the college’s net price. The net price is the amount you will have to pay for one year of college after subtracting grants, scholarships, tuition waivers, and other gift aids. The net price may increase after the first year, especially if the college frontloads scholarships.

A state public college is often your cheapest option. A state public college can cost as little as a quarter the cost of a private college. Look for tuition exchange programs that allow you to qualify for tuition fees in the state or discount at colleges in neighboring states.

A community college can cost even less. Community colleges are great options if you are looking for a certificate or associate’s degree. However, if your goal is to earn a bachelor’s degree, taking a detour to a community college may cause you to miss your destination. Only about one-fifth of students entering community college with the intention of earning a bachelor’s degree do so in six years. This compares to two-thirds of students who start at a 4-year public or private non-profit college.

Apply to a second or third level institution that offers university scholarships if you have good grades and test results. About 300 colleges offer a discount of at least half of tuition fees for students with the best academic results.

Generous colleges “no loan” financial aid policies may be cheaper on a net price basis. These colleges replace loans with grants in the financial aid program. However, loan-less colleges tend to be some of the more selective colleges, making it more difficult to access these colleges.

Enroll in college full-time. You might think you are taking a full-time course load when you are not. Although 12 credits per semester are considered full-time for financial aid purposes, you will need to take at least 15 credits per semester to graduate on time.