15 Tips to Save Money on College
1) Apply for financial aid
should be your fist step in the college application process no matter where you
plan to go. When you fill out your Free
Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA,
you aren’t just applying for loans. You may also qualify for grants; this is
money you don’t have to pay back! In a study
by Nerd Wallet, researchers found that high school graduates left more than $2.9
billion in free federal grant money on the table 2014. Don’t miss out on free
2) Consider community college
college will literally save you save thousands on tuition for your first two
years. In Texas you will spend $2,619
per year vs. $8,670
at a 4-year school. Community colleges aren’t just a money saver, if you
decide to go on for your bachelor’s, some community colleges have transfer
partnerships with universities. These partnerships serve as a direct pathway
into your program of study, ensuring that you won’t lose credits when you
3) Take dual credit
Why not start
earning college credits before you even get there? Dual credit programs let you
earn college credit while you are satisfying high school graduation requirements.
Some dual credit courses are offered on
your high school campus. Or, you can get a preview of college life by attending
classes on a college campus. Each school has it’s own partnerships with
colleges, so check with yours.
4) Apply for scholarships
hand in hand with financial aid; don’t just assume you won’t qualify. All kinds
of scholarships exist even if your grades aren’t great, including atypical
ones, like scholarships for average
students, and redheads. Reduce
the cost of your education by taking the time to look and apply for
scholarships. (Note: NEVER pay for a scholarship search service, there are many
free sites with the same information.)
5) Buy or rent used text books
a new textbook if you don’t have to. Sometimes this is unavoidable, but always buy
used, or rent them when you can. Just be sure to return your rentals on time so
you don’t get dinged with extra fees. If you sell your books back at the end of
the semester, use the money that you do get to buy books for the next semester.
6) Look for free campus amenities
things are included in your tuition that you may not have thought of, like
movie rentals from the library, intramural sports and computer software to name
a few. Leave no stone unturned in the search for campus freebies.
7) Live at home or get a roommate
not sound very exciting to live at home during your college years, but if you
do, you can cut
your expenses in half. If that’s not possible, get a roommate. This is even
more important if you live off campus, because no matter where you live these
days, you can’t escape soaring
8) Make a budget…and stick to it!
is all about living within your means; don’t spend more money than you have.
Sounds easy, right? Making a budget may or may not be a challenge, but actually
sticking to it is where most people fall short. Try using a expense tracker
like Mint to see how you really spend your money, and
where you can cut back. Budgeting is a fundamental life skill, and if you learn
how to do it successfully, it will save you money well beyond your college
9) Take it easy with the credit
pay the balance in full by the end of the month, the credit card company will
add an interest charge to your balance. So that item you had to have could end
up costing you several times more than what you paid in the store. There’s a lot to learn
when it comes to using
credit cards responsibly, but the basic rule of thumb is don’t buy anything
on a credit card that you can’t pay for right away.
10) Learn to cook
your own meals is always more
cost efficient than eating out. But if learning a skill like cooking sounds
too daunting, fear not. Even if you swap going out to lunch for bringing your
own, you could save
around $2,000 a year. Start small with your favorite sandwich and some
11) Make plans to graduate on time
don’t graduate on time, it can cost
you thousands extra. There’s also an opportunity cost at play. The longer
you spend in school, the greater the potential loss in wages over the course of
your career. To avoid spending extra time in school, don’t go in blindly. Talk
with your academic adviser, make a thoughtful plan, and stick to it.
12) Carpool, take public
transportation or get a bike
roommate? (Read #7!) Carpooling in this case is a great option, even if only
one of you has a car because you can split the costs of operating one. Public
transportation might only work for those in big cities, but anyone who lives
close enough to campus can ride a bike to class, which is the cheapest (and
greenest) option of all.
13) Consider an alternative spring
go somewhere, (or do anything other than sit at home and do nothing) but you
don’t want to break the bank? Then sign up for an alternative
spring break, a service project that helps communities in need. There are
several organizations that host these trips, and your college might even have
it’s own program. They cost considerably less than that beach trip all your friends
are taking, and you will actually be doing some good in this world.
14) Take advantage of your student
businesses offer discounts for students, from trips to the movie theater to less obvious ones, like
discounts on car insurance. So before you purchase anything, ask about student
discounts. The worst they can say is no.
15) Do you really need that?
This last tip requires that you be completely honest
with yourself. Every year retailers convince students and their parents that
they absolutely need this, or that for college. Many even have ”checklists” and
“must-have” lists. Can you really justify your need for a printer? If you can channel
your inner frugal, you can save a lot of money, and not to mention space, by
only buying the things you truly need.