There are many ways to save money as a college student, and as said college student, I have to try to take advantage of each and every one of them. Unfortunately, that’s not always easy. Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve learned by observing and experiencing.
First of all, regarding the college one chooses. Public and state universities are almost always cheaper than private universities, and many times the programs at public universities are just as prestigious as their private rivals. Then, apply for any and all scholarships possible. And don’t forget to fill out the FAFSA for the possibility of getting grants from the government. Contact financial aid at the school early and often, as they can help in understanding the necessary costs and the available aid.
Next, and here’s where so many college students fail, don’t make any unnecessary purchases. If at all possible, cut back on bad habits, like binge-eating, drinking and smoking. Use a meal plan from the school, and eat at the cafeteria; this will help cut back on the costs of buying food. Use your student I.D. to get discounts at all sorts of places, and don’t go to as many concerts, if at all possible. Most schools have all kinds of services available, like counseling, job and career services, a wellness center, and free or discount performances. Take advantage of all the amenities the school has to offer.
Regarding textbooks: Many professors don’t require their students to have the textbook. Wait until the first day of class, and ask the professor if it’s a necessity. If it is, explore different options. Renting a used book from an online student resource is often cheaper than buying it from the bookstore.
On-campus living often offers different options, especially at state schools. Try one of the cheaper dormitories. It’s often not as comfortable or private as the bigger, more expensive dorms, but it reduces costs like gas money, and it offers more of a rounded college experience.
Academic advisement may seem like a given, but bears mentioning. Every college student has what is called an academic advisor. They are the ones who help the students decide what classes to take when, and how to enroll in those classes. Advisors help the student keep track of what classes are needed for their degree, and what classes they already have the credit for (AP classes and concurrent enrollment in high school are highly beneficial). Visiting the advisement office often will provide a more streamlined college success path, which may enable the student to graduate early, resulting in a lower cost.
Lastly, stay focused, stay organized and stay on top of all assignments. Instead procrastinating on that research paper, start now. Doing assignments early will reduce the amount of stress. Stress will cause the student to do things he or she wouldn’t otherwise do, like going out and buying comfort food. Stress will often also decrease the quality of work the student does, resulting in a lower grade.
Ultimately, saving money will differ for every student, but these are just some general ideas and tips to try to save money.
[This post was written as part of a scholarship application.]