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Debt-free degrees: Paying for college on a sliding scale

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Sticker shock vs. sliding scales

With average tuition at private American universities and colleges well north of $30,000 a year—and nearing double that amount at the nation's most elite schools—prospective students and their parents taking the figures at face value could be forgiven for fretting. But, sticker shock aside, most college students have never paid full price, and of late, many institutions have introduced sliding-scale payment schemes that can drastically reduce—or even eliminate—tuition payments, student loans and even room and board.

(Read more: Paying for college with Roth IRAs)

Government is also getting into the act, from California and Oregon to Washington, D.C. (on both federal and local levels), with plans to begin further subsidizing secondary education for students from low-income and middle-class families. The moves are timely; according to the White House, in 2010 the average American student left college in hock for $26,000, and collective educational debt has now rocketed past total credit card debt for the first time in U.S. history.

By Kenneth Kiesnoski, CNBC.com
Posted: 16 Feb. 2014

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