As a college student, you need to learn how to save as much money as possible. Although it can be a lot of work, it can really be helpful in the long run.
1. Finish college on time! You need to plan on finishing school in four years. Every extra semester you take will cost you more money that you do not need to spend.
2. Take on a full load. Take a full load each semester. Full time students take 14-21 credit hours a semester and can complete a 120-hour degree in four years with no problem. There are some programs that will require more hours than others. If you relax and take less than 12 credit hours a semester, you will not be able to graduate in four years and will end up spending considerably more money for the same major. You also want to try and take classes during the summer. Some school’s will allow you to take on extra classes beyond their credit limit if you only have a couple semesters left and it will most likely not cost any extra to take the class.
3. Set a budget for fun activities. For many young adults in college, the social scene is a huge part of any college experience, and it doesn’t need to be overly priced by any means. You will want to plan a budget for the following:
- Clothing – Some people like to keep up with the trends, and campus fashion may be different than your current wardrobe. Look in clearance sections of any store first, to keep your costs down.
- Fun – Movies, plays, concerts and other events. Don’t forget your student ID so you can ask for a student discount.
- Food – Although your meal plan should cover the basics, budget some extra money for “extra” food. Take advantage of coupons and sale items, and plan your food purchases around the sales.
4. Don’t change your major after your junior year. Your first 2 years of college are the best time to explore different courses that you really find interesting, but by the time you hit your junior year, you really need to declare a major and stick to that for the remainder of your college career. If you change your major after that point, it’s nearly impossible to graduate within the 4 year mark.
5. Rent, Rent, Rent your books!!!!!!! A majority of classes you will take require you to have a textbook, but you don’t need to get a new one if you can avoid it. Do some research on Amazon, eBay and other websites to see who has the best rental deal for your area. Some universities have textbooks in the library as well. Unless you like to keep your books for their future sentimental value, renting is your best option.
6. Sororities and fraternities are more expensive than the dorm. Beyond the base costs, you need to factor in formal wear for formals events, tickets for different events, as well as many other extras. Do some research so you can estimate the costs. Joining a sorority or fraternity can be fun, but if you are on a budget, your dollars will go further if you choose dorm life.
7. Community college’s are your best friend. They can keep your costs for your first two years of college down, especially since you can often remain at home and save on room and board. Community college’s can be a great place to start, especially if you want to start taking classes while you’re still in high school, but ask before you enroll in a university program. Make sure the universities you want to apply to will take the requirements you’ve already completed. Otherwise it will be money wasted.
8. Going home for breaks can be costly. How often do you plan on visiting home? It’s a good idea to limit your visits home if it’s out of state. The fewer trips, the more you save.
9. Beware of “retail therapy.” Your Freshman year in college is the most stressful year as a college student as you learn to adjust to an entirely different environment. Many people try to distract themselves with retail therapy of some sort, whether it be beer, clothes, video games concert tickets or meals out. Beware of this.
10. Look for grants and scholarships. Not all grants and scholarships are based upon economic need or athletic prowess. Some are based upon potential within a career track. There are work study programs that can help to cover college costs.
College expenses include books, housing, food, travel, living expenses, and entertainment. Can you afford tuition, room and board at the university you want to go to? It’s unrealistic to think that you won’t have any other expenses while you’re there, so don’t put so much weight on the name of the university. You may be able to save money by choosing a different school. If you demonstrate excellence in your school work, it won’t matter which college you graduated from. Your reputation will help you find a job when you complete your degree.
While it’s a great thing to go for what you really want, you can’t look at a college without considering the cost. Paying for college needs to be a discussion you and your family has together while you are in the process of looking for a school. Try to find scholarships and grants as well.