If you’re a college student, you’re probably familiar with the tasks of balancing classes, internships, jobs, and social commitments, all while struggling to save money. What you may not know is how to make this balance happen by minimizing your college expenses. Explore five ways you can reduce your spending.
Attend Community College First
Community college can go a long way toward trimming expenses. For example, many four-year universities require general education prerequisites such as English, history, or science. Why not take general education credits at an affordable community college and transfer the credits once you’re ready to start your major? You can potentially save tuition money and time, but make sure to double-check that the university you hope to attend accepts your credits before transferring.
Seek Out Low-Cost Textbooks
Image via Flickr by Dave Dugdale
Explore websites such as Chegg.com for affordable textbooks. You can often use older versions of textbooks if updates to newer versions are only minor changes.
Additionally, consider using e-textbooks. The advantages of e-textbooks go well beyond savings. Imagine not having to carry that heavy book across campus or worry about what to do with it once your class ends. Finally, think about splitting the costs of textbooks with friends by working out a sharing schedule and forming a study group. Think about the bonding during those late-night cram sessions during finals.
Compare Low-Interest Student Loans
Whether or not to take out a loan is one of the most important decisions you will make during your college experience. For many students, a loan is often a necessity to afford college, but it can have far-reaching and lasting effects.
Before you secure a loan, do your research. A loan with a lower interest rate means less cost to you now and in the future, and a low interest rate can help you pay off your loan faster. You can find the best rates on student loans by using a loan comparison website and refinancing options to fit your needs.
Use Your Student Discounts
Opportunities to use student discounts are everywhere. We’re talking about significant savings on clothing, entertainment, food, transportation, software programs, and electronics. These discounts are like having an all-access pass to the best deals available. But the catch is that you won’t be a college student forever; be sure to use this money-saving advantage.
Don’t Totally Rely on Federal Student Aid
While you should make sure you complete the FAFSA every year while you’re in school to see what federal aid you may qualify for, you’re not always guaranteed assistance. This point is especially true if your EFC (expected family contribution) number is too high. Make sure to research all the alternative options available to you if federal grants, awards, and loans are not a possibility.
Saving money during college is completely possible. Do your research and consult with staff at your college’s financial aid office so that you can reduce your expenses as much as you can. You owe it to yourself and your education.