College is expensive, and tuition increases at a 2.3% average every year. Cost of living on and off campus tends to rise with tuition. Supplies, texts and materials needed for class are subject to rising costs. Food prices fluctuate, but on average they are rising. The same can be said of fuel, and clothing. Overall it has become necessary for the college student to reign in their spending, form a budget, and really learn to work the college system to minimize expenses.
The average student borrows to cover the costs of tuition, living, and materials. Fortunately the Federal loans remain on deferment status until graduation, and can be deferred if you meet certain qualifications. Interest, however will continue to gather in deferment on unsubsidized, as well as the subsidized loans.
Students in need of more financial help can qualify for alumni grants, which are taken from cash donations from the alumni of the school. Often these grants require a commitment from the student to write a thank you letter to the donor, and take a short course in financial responsibility. Not all schools are gracious with their donations.
Many colleges offer scholarships. Now before you skip ahead there is something important you need to know about it. Often there are so few applicants to the scholarships that the likelihood of a student receiving one or more of them is high. At most schools the scholarships end up in your pocket, rather than go to tuition.
There are hundreds of millions of dollars in scholarships available every year, all over the world. They are not as hard to find as you would think. Following are some sites you can visit. Know that scholarships often have parameters that need to be met.
This site is a blog that updates every Friday. It lists hundreds of different scholarship opportunities. Visit this link for advice on composing the scholarship-ideal essay.
College prowler will match scholarships to your qualifications, and then provide links where you can apply and/or participate in the competitions. Be aware that some offers are marketing offers from participating businesses.
This site is comprehensive, but for use by United States citizens only. It includes articles, and other helps for finding the right scholarship match.
On your financial aid form you may qualify for work/study programs. The University will give you a job, and a part of your income will go to pay your tuition and other expenses.
At certain colleges there is a department within the financial aid department that advises students on getting a part-time job off campus. At some universities the department is referred to as job development and location counseling. University of Bath offers just the thing, and their job is to help you find a job that will fit your schedule, major, and needs.
Consider attending an online school if you wish to save even more money. Since all the classes take place online, students do not need to worry about paying for room and board or commuting costs. Online schools like Saint Joseph’s University offer financial aid as well, which will help you out even more. The methods of qualifying for financial aid for an online school are not much different than a conventional brick and mortar institution. The only difference is that web-based classes end up saving you far more money in the long run.
Decide, Then Schedule
The step that will save you the most money when attending school is to declare a major, and stick with it. Why? Every department within the college has its own advisors, and those advisors are well trained to do one thing; lay out a schedule for every single semester you will be in school. The advisors will trim all fat from the schedules so that you won’t be wasting thousands of dollars on unnecessary classes.
There are frequently other requirements for your general education that will be scheduled as well such as a Fine Arts course that requires your participation in some lectures and performances over the course of the semester.
How do you know what major to declare? If you are unsure, the safest thing to do is declare no major, and then take one or two career courses to help you find a fit. There are also career counselors, and career centers on most campuses. Utilize those resources. Often they have tests you can take to fit your personality, talents, and experience to a major.
It is strongly advised that while you are in school get work that relates to your major. That experience will be all the more reason for companies to hire you.
Do not eat out frequently. It is expensive, adds up quickly, and is poor nourishment for your cognitive, and physical abilities.
Make a budget, and live by it. It’s easy. First, you add up all the money you get each month. If it varies, average it out. Then get all your expenses together, and add them up. Third, deduct your expenses from your average income. The money you have left over will go toward living; fuel, food, clothing, supplies, and fun. Be careful because there are other modes of spending out there that let you fall into the trap of living beyond your means.
When forming a budget it is recommended that you do a little forensic accounting or take some help if you want an organized plan. Utilize any tools available that can measure your spending for you, and categorize it. A little digging will yield surprising results like how much you spend on eating out, how much you spend on non-essentials, and what percentage of your income goes towards bills and fuel. These tools are often available online with your financial institution.
Avoid bad debt.
Banks hold college students in a certain regard. They issue credit cards to them, often without a lot of hassle. Get one card only, if you choose to accept the offer, and use it only when in dire need. Since dire needs are few and far between one should not arise while you are attending school.
Finish. The best thing to do if you are borrowing to pay for school is to finish. Student debt stacks up quickly, and deeply. Dropping out is an option only if the cost of tuition is within your means. If it is within your means, then there should be no reason to borrow. That’s how you estimate it.
Finally, educate yourself about finances. There is a dearth in the educational system for teaching people about money and how it works. That is both good and bad. It is good because it allows you to figure out what works best for you. It is bad because too many students make poor financial decisions that alter their lives, and educations. There are hundreds of educational sources out there. Seek sound financial advice from sound financial minds like Dave Ramsey, Wayne W. Dyer, Robert Kiyosaki, and Suze Orman. Learning to heed good financial advice leads to feeling good about your money. And when you feel good about your money, you can feel good about your education.
About the author: Ted Hansen likes to share his thoughts and experiences about managing finances. He hopes to enrich the lives of his readers with ideas on how to secure their businesses and families.