College is expensive. Really, really expensive. And with the economy still struggling, it can be hard to scramble together $30,000 a year — or, likely, more — to pay for it.

But there are ways to save, and get, money while pursuing a bachelor's degree. We ask Shereem Herndon-Brown, a former admissions officer at Georgetown University and current director of Strategic Admissions Advice, for his advice on how to make college more affordable.

RELATED: The one thing no one tells you about college that freshmen need to know

Have a plan

One of the best ways to curb college costs is making sure you can finish your degree — or degrees — in four years. “Students need to have direction, a major in mind that suits their interests and their long-term goals,” says Herndon-Brown. “If you go in without a plan, and just take random classes, you can find yourself on a six- or seven-year plan. When students have a clear picture of what they want to do, what suits their personality — that’s a great way to save money.”

Start at a community college

If you don’t know what you want to do, one good way to allow yourself the freedom to explore different possibilities without burning a hole in your pocket is to do some credits close to home, says Herndon-Brown. “Staring at a local community college and going there for two years and then transferring is a good option.”

RELATED: Five things you need to know before getting an online degree

Look for scholarships in unconventional places

It can be hard to get scholarships. And just because you may not qualify for need-based assistance from the school of your choice, doesn’t mean that you don’t need some help. Fortunately, there are outside organizations that give money — such as churches, community centers and other groups. And, of course, there’s the Internet. “Websites like Fastweb.com and College Xpress are like search engines for scholarships,” says Herndon-Brown. “I also recommend working with a financial aid consultant, who can help match your interests and strengths with appropriate scholarships.”

But he says to start early: “Finding aid is a long and tedious process, so you should start the end of junior year because of how much work is involved.”

Bonus tip for saving after you graduate:

Majoring in liberal arts isn’t necessarily a bad — or money-wasting — decision. But students should be focused on balancing their more scholarly pursuits with tangible real-world skills, like fundamental accounting and economics, basic coding and computer programming, or an in-demand language such as Mandarin. “There’s nothing wrong with studying philosophy or English or the social sciences,” says Herndon-Brown. “But double major or minor in something that’ll make you an asset to the kinds of companies who you want to work for.”