College students can be experts at saving money. As the old adage goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention”. Well, when you’re busy and on a tight budget, you’re forced to come up with some pretty creative solutions. Did you hear about the freshman who ate free dinners for a semester in the student union by visiting every evening club and informational meeting she could find? Or the sophomore who got caught selling dorm parking spots on football Saturdays? Or the upperclassman who claimed toilet paper is cheaper than coffee filters and does just almost as good of a job?

Every dollar counts, of course. But college students don’t have to resort to miserly, desperate, or possibly illegal behavior to save a buck. There are some potentially huge wins available to students willing to do a little extra work in their free time, on holiday breaks, or over the summer.

I’m not talking about earning a few hundred dollars by grinding away in retail at the local mall, although that does have its merits. I’m talking about potentially saving thousands of dollars by completing a single College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exam. There are over 30 of these exams, in subjects ranging from American Literature to Financial Accounting. It only costs $85 to take a CLEP exam, and if you pass you could save $2,000+ in college tuition by transferring in 3 credits. And that’s just for one exam! Each CLEP exam you pass and receive credit for is a class that you don’t have to take on campus. This saves you time as well as money.

Each student will have to individually check with their college to see if and how CLEP is an option for them. If it is an option, then the next step is choosing an exam and then hitting the books. You don’t get credit for taking an exam, of course. You get credit for passing an exam. And that can be a challenge. Luckily, there are resources available to help CLEP students.

One such resource is taking an online course from a provider like, which has custom developed courses for CLEP students with practice tests, engaging videos, mobile support, and tutors on standby.

Once ready, students will need to schedule a test appointment. Here is some other good information to know for test day:

  • Don’t forget to be well rested, and know the directions to the test center. The tests are generally held at local colleges.
  • Be prepared with valid identification and a printed registration ticket.
  • Certain military members and their families may be eligible for free CLEP tests.
  • Special accommodations may be requested in advance if necessary.

It just takes some hard work, prep, and practice for students to save thousands of dollars in college tuition. By all means, college students should still take advantage of that free pizza at the informational meeting for potential Quidditch players, but don’t overlook opportunities for big savings like CLEP. With CLEP, holidays breaks and summers have never held so much possibility!

Bo Cheli, former teacher, and Community Relations Manager at for CLEP


How Students Can Use Holiday Breaks and Summers to Save Money at College


Special Post:  November 29, 2017