Going to college is a massive step to take, and the educational side of your degree may not be the only worry you have. You may be thinking: am I going to make friends with everybody else in the class? Am I really smart enough? (The answer to that one is yes). Can I really afford to do this? Well, we’re going to help you to make the answer to this one a resounding ‘yes’ too, so listen up if you want some financial tips to help you with the cost of college tuition.
Do some part-time work
This may not be for everybody, but if you have any time to fit in some part-time work around your studies, then you’ll be able to pay for your groceries out of this money, and maybe give yourself a few treats, too. You can do a range of things, but bar and restaurant work is a pretty easy student job, that could earn you a few dollars. Tutoring is also a good idea if you want to put your studies to good use, and it is usually flexible enough to allow you some time off when finals week comes around. Don’t prioritize working, but if you have some time, even a few hours work will change your financial situation.
Start saving as early as middle and high school! Most teens have nearly all their expenses covered, so it can be a great discipline to start saving for college early. I always encourage teens to start working a small, flexible job in high school. I had my first job at 11 years old and LOVED making my own money! This is also a great way to teach our kids that money does not grow on trees! :D
Budget, budget, budget…
Budget may be a dreaded word to you, and you may associate it with excessive controls over your money. This is not necessarily true, however, and budgeting can help you to know your finances inside out, which can never be a bad thing. Knowing your outgoings each week for food, rent, and other amenities, will help you to focus on where exactly you need to cut down. If you’ve been going out after class every day for a fancy meal and a bottle of wine, you’ll see that the amount you’re really spending is piling up. Check out some of the best personal finance apps to get yourself going, if you don’t know where to start.
Never buy books new
You may see the long list of books required for each class, and feel a bit light-headed when you tally up the costs. However, you won’t need to get them all from the store and pay full price for a brand new copy. You can get free PDFs online, and there are plenty of online bookstores that specialize in used college books. There may also be some kind of scheme in your department (or even a Facebook page), where those who have already completed the first year of college sell their books for a cheaper price. I always shop around for the best prices. You can even ask other students who have already taken the class how much they would sell the book, or if you can borrow the books. Don’t spend lots of money without looking for some more cost-efficient alternatives!
Most undergraduate degrees can actually be completed in only 3 years. This is NOT as hard as it may seem! (I earned my undergrad in 2.5 years). By graduating even one semester early, you can save thousands of dollars.
Most colleges have a recommended course schedule for students to use. These course schedules recommend taking 12 credits each semester, and taking 4 years to complete. They recommend 4 years just so that they can continue taking your money!!
Don’t trust the colleges recommendations because they only have their best interest in mind!!
So by graduating one or two semesters early, you can save yourself thousands. One way to do this is by taking the maximum amount of allowed credits each semester. This means that you enroll for 18 credits each semester instead of 12. Don’t panic!! It is only an extra two classes each semester, which is not as hard as you may think!! Having 5 or 6 classes each semester is totally manageable!
So there we have it, some financial tips to help you get through college, so that you can stretch your college fund further (or save up some cash whilst studying). Let me know what tips and tricks you have found that works great for you!!