Families Find Ways to Pay for College

March 26, 2013 Updated Mar 26, 2013 at 11:37 PM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon

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March 26, 2013 Updated Mar 26, 2013 at 11:37 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - If you are a parent with a kid heading to college, you already know it is going to cost you a bundle.

The other issue -- how much college tuition is going to change your life.

Some families wonder whether they can afford that "dream school," while others are trying to figure out if they can afford a college education at all.

When looking for the perfect college or university, the attention is not solely on the program. Students and their parents also look at how much it will cost.

Hundreds of people turned out for a college fair at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center.

Ethan Reyer and his friend Alexe Wodowski came with Ethan's parents to check out school after school.

Ethan and Alexe are just sophomores. Their big questions are about majors and pre-med programs.

However, attention is already turning to how they will foot the tuition bill.

"I've been thinking about scholarships," says Wodowski. "The better the grades I get, the more scholarships I'll get. So basically I'm just doing my best."

Reyer adds that he plans to look at student loans.

There is an even bigger emphasis on sports, grades and extra-curricular activities, as competition heightens for scholarships.

Ethan's parents know this well. They also have a daughter who goes to SUNY Fredonia.

"We kind of cut corners on where we spend our money, we watch where we spend our money," Richard Reyer says. "We adjust our withholding taxes on our payroll not to cut ourselves short, but just to cut extra money and put that aside."

They are not alone. With two kids that are high-school and college aged, the Reyers say they know many people that worry about tuition and student loans.

The Reyers actually found ways to cut the bill after deciding on a school.

Sandy Reyer says it is important to "Go to the financial office after you accept the school and talk to the financial aid officer and see if there's anymore money."

Some college fairs also offer workshops. The Reyer family says that is where they learned a lot about how to cut costs when paying for college.

Wodowski adds students and parents are thinking about how to pay for college earlier and earlier.

"College can be really expensive," Wodowski says, "especially if you're going to a medical program. So the sooner you think of it, the sooner you can work it out."