--Take AP (Advanced Placement) classes in high school if your school offers it. Many colleges accept AP high school credit if you get a certain score on the AP test. By entering college with some credits to your name, you may be able to save on paying for some college credits or even a whole semester!
--Take classes in the summer at community college. Your student may be able to take some college credits at a local community college in the summer that may transfer to the college of your choice. These courses are almost always less expensive than at a regular college. Make sure they will transfer before taking them.
I took AP Calculus in high school and was able to get 4 credits for it in college. Because the program I was in required 125 credits for graduation and my tuition only paid for 15 credits per semester (anything above 15 credits cost extra) for a total of 120 credits throughout the four years, I only needed to pay for 1 extra credit during my four years. I have heard of people who enter college with over 20 AP credits. By doing this, they could graduate a semester early - saving a semester's worth of tuition. Some of my friends took some of the introductory college courses at community college in the summer. The per credit cost there was cheaper than at our university.
My last life experience with college costs was for my master's degree. I worked at a job after college. And they did offer education benefits. It was not the most generous, but it was something. It basically paid for the equivalent of two college courses per year if you went to a local public institution or one course at a private institution. I got my master's degree over a five-year period by taking two courses per year at a public university at night while working at that job during the day. There were a few courses I had to pay for on my own since they weren't directly related to the job I was doing, but the company approved the rest. So my master's degree program cost only a couple thousand dollars total. Much better than if I had gone full-time directly after college and not making an income.
So while college is expensive any way you look at it, there are several ways to keep your costs down. If you start thinking of various ways to pay for college and what would be a good fit for your child and your pocketbook, you may be able to keep your college expenses at a minimum. Anyone else have other ideas on keeping college costs low?