How to Save Money in College
How to save money in college is a question most students will ask more than once during their time at school. College is a time of discovery, building new connections and personal growth.
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However, it can also be a time of great stress, particularly when you need to manage your own personal finances. You want to focus on your studies, but that’s easier said than done when you’re always concerned about paying for personal and college expenses. Education is not just about learning from textbooks anymore — it can also be about learning to manage student loans and living expenses.
Apply for a variety of financial aid, scholarships and grants.
Most people want to minimize their use of student loans. The cost of tuition is skyrocketing, and so is the cost of the books and living expenses. The existence of crippling student loan debt is one of the main reasons millions of people live hand-to-mouth long after graduating and finding their first job.
It’s possible to alleviate some of this burden, if you know where to look for scholarships. We interviewed Kristina Ellis, the author of Confessions of a Scholarship Winner, and this is what she had to say: “You don’t have to be a valedictorian, class president or star athlete to be a great scholarship candidate. Universities, organizations, private donors and corporate sponsors give merit-based scholarships for almost anything you can think of — for being the son or daughter of an alum, for being left-handed, for community service, for having the best zombie-apocalypse escape plan and much more. Regardless of your background and experience, if you dig deep enough, you’ll find scholarships that fit you.”
Yes, it takes time and effort to get “free” money, and you won’t get every grant or scholarship you apply for, but trying doesn’t hurt.
Borrow textbooks instead of buying them, or buy them used.
Some new books go for as much as a hundred bucks or more — quite pricey considering that you are not likely to use them again after the school year is over. Reselling them on the internet is a great idea, but do you really need to buy dozens of books every year in the first place? A used book might be slightly less appealing, but think of all that you’d save. Go for a “used” book option whenever you can, or, if possible, borrow from the library or a classmate.
Make a budget and keep track of your expenses.
Creating a budget may not seem like the most fun way to spend your time, but when you need to save money in college, it can make managing your money easier. Money can easily slip away if you don’t keep track of where your resources go. List all of your expenses — from rent to food, to laundry, to a cup of latte, to a night on a town.
For two or three months, collect all your receipts and keep track of even the smallest expenses. Then look at your list and see what could be taken off of it. This will help you develop a better relationship with your resources and cut down on impulse buying.
Save on small things that you don’t really need.
Don’t give up all the little joys of life for the sake of saving money, but do make sure you know where your money goes in order to plan accordingly.
Are you sure you need this expensive cable or satellite service when there are video and television streaming services, each of which can be yours for a small monthly fee? Just sit down and think carefully about the expenses that you can cut without giving up all small luxuries.
Split rent with roommates.
If you choose to live off-campus and far away from your family, sharing a small apartment with a roommate or two can be a great money-saver. When you are thinking of how to save money in college, certain comforts (like having a place all to yourself) can be put aside for a while. Of course, with roommates comes an element of distraction, so choose them wisely and you’ll find that sharing an apartment with other like-minded people can also be fun.
Consider attending a tuition-free institution abroad.
Unlike the U.S., many countries make higher education very cheap or even free for their own citizens and foreigners alike. Germany, for example, offers plenty of free high-quality English-language educational choices for U.S. students. “There are over 1,000 programmes taught in English by German universities,” says Student.com, “meaning language need not be an issue in getting your degree.”
And there are other countries, too, that welcome international students with free or low-cost university programs, including France and Finland. So if you’ve always wanted to travel and live in another country, consider studying abroad.
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