9 Ways to Save Money in College

9 Ways to Save Money in College
  • Opening Intro -

    College is expensive and those costs may keep you from academic pursuits.

    In many fields a degree is required, but attaining the higher education dream may seem beyond your reach.

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Unless you get a full-ride scholarship or have the means to pay for everything yourself, the burden is fully on your shoulders. Here’s how to save money while you are in college by containing your tuition, books and living expenses.

1. Fill out a FAFSA. The price of college is simply a sticker price. That means the cost per credit is negotiable. All students, regardless of economic ability, should fill out a free application for student aid (FAFSA) form and submit that annually. That effort alone can shave thousands of dollars off of your costs with grant money and scholarships awarded.

2. Apply for scholarships. Billions of dollars of college scholarship money is awarded annually, but some awards are open only to applicants that apply. Learn what scholarships are available to you, the qualifications and restrictions, deadlines in place, and then apply. It takes effort to apply, but if you win your college costs are reduced.

3. Ask for help. If college is simply too expensive, tell the school that you cannot afford it. You may be offered additional grant money or advised to take out federal or private student loans. Know that loan money must be paid back, so only exercise this option when your other choices have been exhausted and the choice seems right to you.

4. Rent your books. It can cost you more than $1,000 per year to buy textbooks. That’s a lot of money for books that you probably will use once and that’s it. Instead of buying your books, why not rent them? You can do so by dealing with companies that specialize in that book rentals such as Chegg, Textbook Rentals, BookRenter, Barnes & Noble, and more. If you want to buy and keep your books, you can find good buys online. Shop Amazon to find those deals.

5. Do not pay for banking. Bank fees can sap your budget. Certainly, the monthly maintenance costs may not be a big deal, but they do add up. Paying $14 per month is $168 per year, money that you could use. Avoid the bank fees by opening up a student checking account. Most banks offer them. If your bank does not, they may sing a different tune if your parents do business with them.

6. Avoid using credit cards. If at all possible, do not use a credit card. It is all too easy to run up credit card debt while in college. More than 50 percent of college freshmen have a credit card and some are leaving college with thousands of dollars in credit card debt on top of their student loan debt — what a terrible way to launch a career! If you absolutely must have a card, pay off your balances monthly. Better yet, have your card cosigned by your parents and statements sent to them for regular review and payment.

7. Opt for a meal plan. It is important that while you are in college your diet doesn’t suffer. Chances are you won’t starve even on a ramen noodle diet. But, you’ll be malnourished and develop bad habits leading to health problems later on. Your college will offer a meal plan that can be healthful and save you money, but only if you take advantage of them without letting it go to waste.

8. Consider your equipment needs. What kind of technologies do you have? What do you need? It is a given that students will have a cell (smartphone) and probably a tablet or maybe a laptop. If you do not own either, shop with an eye toward keeping what you get through your college years. Search for a reasonable plan; if possible get added to your parent’s plan. Avoid overage charges for text messages and online access. Most extended warranty plans are simply not worth it.

9. Don’t drive. Unless you are a commuting student, there is little reason to have a car while on campus. Many colleges forbid freshmen from having a car, given the limited amount of parking. Give up the car you prize or leave it at home. You’ll save on car insurance, registration, fees, gasoline, maintenance, repairs and more. It is an expense you probably cannot afford, one that can drag down your college budget. And if you need a car, a car sharing service may prove to be a terrific alternative.

College Costs

Other ways to contain your college costs include living at home while attending college, starting off at a community college then transferring your credits to a four-year school, and by working your way through college. Weigh your options and take the path that is the most sensible and affordable for you.

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