Going to college is going to be a big change for you. As a young adult, you are now responsible for keeping a budget, and managing your life on your own! While this is exciting, this is also a lot of responsibility. And if there is one thing you should pay attention to, it is the amount of debt you are getting into in order to pay for college. The less debt you have when you graduate, the easier it will be for you to build a strong financial future. So how do you save money as a college student?
1. Paying less for college
The one big ticket item when you go to college is college itself. Tuition fees, books, extra credits, … the list goes on. You can save on tuition by applying for all the scholarships you find. Be thorough in your research, as spending a few days filling up application forms, even if that leads to say “only” $2,000 in scholarships, is a great return on investment. Think about how long it would take to earn that kind of money flipping burgers!
There are many more ways to save money on college expenses, from paying less for essays, or for books by buying second hand ones, going to a state college or a community college for a few years, then transfer to your college of choice with higher tuition only for a year or two.
Of course, where to attend school is perhaps the biggest decision affecting cost. You could choose to attend a community college, then transfer to your college of choice after two years to save a ton of money. Another option is to go to a college in your state to avoid costly out of state tuition fees. And finally, you could pursue your entire degree online to save far more than you would in traditional, in-person degree programs.
2. Spending less time in college
The sooner you graduate, the sooner you can get a real job and start earning real money. People are often conflicted about unpaid internships because they may add value to your job application, but the truth is, if you can get a normal paying job, the earlier the better. Every extra month you spend in college is a month you pay rent, food, transportation, and all the extra expenses associated with being a student.
To spend less time in college, you can take college credits in high school, take extra credit while you are in college, or favor employment and experience rather than an extra year in college. Say you can spend three years in college and expect a $30,000 starting salary, or spend four years in college and expect $40,000. You can chose to start at $30,000, and work hard to get a promotion the next year, and hopefully $40,000. Even if you don’t, you will still have spent one less year in college, and have less student debt.
3. Saving on daily life
Life as a college student doesn’t have to be that expensive. The saying “live like a student” exists for a reason! You are young, and living with roommates, not having a car, having a basic phone plan, etc. are not such big sacrifices when you think about the benefit of graduating with little or no debt.
Every time you are about to swipe your card, ask yourself: “Do I need that? Can I get it cheaper somewhere else? Can I do without it?”. Shop at thrift stores or at the end of the market for discounted vegetables, turn the thermostat down, spend less time in the shower, turn off the light when you leave a room. Little amounts do add up.
4. Making more money
There are tons of jobs you can get around your college schedule. You can work on campus for reduced tuition, which is usually a great return on investment, you can work a classic student job such as a hospitality job, or you can work in a field you want to be in later, to gain valuable experience.
Once again, every dollar you make before graduating will reduce your student debt and help you get a great start for your adult life.