It’s no secret that the cost of college is incredibly high. US News and World Report are cutting college costs in several ways, pointing out that tuition and tuition fees averaged more than $ 11,000 a year for a four-year public university alone. Much of this is funded through student loans.
In addition, many students use loans for additional financial aid to pay for expenses such as food, housing, textbooks, and other expenses, adding to the huge post-graduate debt that many students face (over $ 30,000 average only for undergraduate studies) to US News).
Of course, when you borrow less money, the burden becomes less, but it’s easier said than done. Aside from simply choosing a cheaper school and making sure you complete your degree efficiently, most of the steps you can take to minimize college costs come from making smart decisions, even small ones.
It doesn’t have to be miserable either. Use frugal hedonism as a model. The idea is not to be unhappy while living cheaply, but to use low cost as a creative constraint, especially socially. This works very well in college as being social is a huge part of the experience.
First of all, remember one simple rule: If you avoid spending now, you will have more in your checking account when deciding how much to borrow next year, which will reduce your student loan after graduation. It all comes down to small decisions.
Take advantage of the benefits for students
If there is anything you need, first check out the services on campus. Is there a student health facility that you can use when you are sick? Are there any ways to check out items that you might need or want? Are there any support or special interest groups that can help you in a situation? When you have a need or are considering a service, the first thing to do is to see what is available to you just because you are a student. Your online student directory is a good place to start.
Also, remember to engage with organizations on campus, especially organizations related to your area of expertise. Organizations on campus are an incredible value. Not only are they a way to connect with self-motivated people in your field (who you likely have classes with and see regularly), but they are also many ways to open the door to things like internships and special programs. What about saving money? These organizations also tend to have a lot of “freebies” – free food, freebies, events, and other things that can directly help with the cost.
Share your expenses with friends
Much of college expenses can be greatly reduced if you just share them with friends. And by sharing these expenses, you open yourself to some of the rich social experiences that make college a once in a lifetime experience.
For starters, you should share an apartment with roommates for a year. This drastically reduces the cost of housing per person and keeps your bills low.
Buy groceries together so you can buy some things in bulk, especially housewares like toilet paper. In my college days, my roommates and I took a camp club trip about once a month, picking up items we all used, and dividing the costs evenly, saving us all a ton of money.
Plan together so that meals can be prepared alternately. Again, in my own college days, we switched from making meals big enough for everyone and putting the leftovers in containers in the refrigerator where people could easily grab one when they got home. You could make enough food for 5 to 10 individual meals for $ 10, and if you were responsible for just a few of those a week that would be $ 20 a week for food, and it came in handy because of the Most days a meal was waiting for you in the fridge or slow cooker when you got there.
Carefully compare on-campus and off-campus prices
As mentioned above, if you share a lot of the costs, you can cut the cost of living off campus significantly. However, living on campus also offers great advantages, mainly because it will make your studies less of a hindrance. Your food is prepared for you and you can walk to much of the campus at any time.
But is it more expensive? It varies from university to university and from situation to situation. If you are unsure whether to live on campus or off campus, consider carefully considering the costs.
Off-campus is likely cheaper if you have lots of roommates and share expenses. Compare them very carefully before you take the plunge. By staying on campus, you are making the most of what you get for your dollars. Which option will get you through the year with the lowest cost? What if you have a roommate? Two roommates?
If you come to the conclusion that life on campus is better financially, you will benefit. Don’t skip meals that are on your menu and just get take-away. Find out about additional services associated with your on-campus residential plan, such as: B. Social events and other events that may involve promotional gifts.
Avoid carrying a credit card
For college students, credit cards can be a great temptation. They provide an easy way to buy things right away when students run out of cash. Plus, they can help build your credit score and sometimes offer rewards as well. However, they usually cause more problems than they are worth.
Here’s a simple rule: don’t carry a credit card with you for unplanned expenses. Having one isn’t a bad idea, but don’t have it with you if you might be tempted to use it for something frivolous. Use it only for carefully planned purchases and consider it a credit building tool.
The last thing you want to do is leave school with a large credit card bill in addition to the student loans. So avoid this at all costs, even if using a card is tempting.
Buy your used textbooks and get started on your social network
Textbooks are a huge expense for most students, especially at a time when many textbooks are online. Instead of just going through your class list and buying whatever recommended, go to the first session of your class and find out what’s really going on with textbooks. Do you need to buy or rent an online textbook? If not, do you need to buy a new textbook? Are there ways to share textbooks?
Avoid buying new textbooks or expensive online books unless there is literally no other option. If your class is using a printed book and it has been available for a while, see if you can find it used.
Find out if someone in your social circle had the class last semester and you can borrow the book or sell it to you cheaply. This is one situation where it can be helpful to be in a campus organization related to your major. If that doesn’t work, check out services like Chegg that rent and sell used textbooks.
If you do have a physical book, use it well, but maximize its value by taking notes outside of the book rather than highlighting or noting the margins. This improves the resale value at the end of the class.
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