This is a very good question that is extremely relevant with the high costs of higher education. College can be very beneficial, and does tend to be correlated to higher lifetime earnings. However, a few things can help:
- Take as many AP classes as possible while in high school, or take advantage of any programs your school may offer that will allow you to earn college credits.
- Unless you have a very clear idea of what you want to study, consider beginning at a Community College (or Junior College, or whatever they are called in your area). Community Colleges offer excellent educational opportunities and are much more affordable. Some career paths only require an Associate's degree in order to get your foot in the door, so you can also start earning money sooner. Once you have gotten a job, you might then be able to go back to school to complete a Bachelor's or higher degree (if you want to!).
- Whether you are enrolled in a Community College or 4-year University, you may be able to "test out" of some courses, especially the ones that make up your "general education" credits. This can help you graduate more quickly, which helps save money. Also consider taking summer classes if offered, they tend to be shorter in duration, cheaper, and again, can help you graduate more quickly!
- Finally, don't forget that there are a ton of free resources on the Internet that can help you learn a subject. Use good judgment when selecting a source, but you can learn virtually any topic from a number of online resources like Udemy, Lynda, or even good old Youtube!