We all know how expensive college can be. From tuition and fees to books and meals, it seems as though there is never enough money to fund your education. Although challenging, saving money while in college is possible. Here are some tips for how to manage and conserve money while attending college.
1. Apply for scholarships
Scholarships aren’t just for high school students about to enter college. You can apply for scholarships every year you’re attending college. Each year, many scholarships go unclaimed when they could benefit students. Not sure where to find scholarships and how to apply? Check out Peterson’s scholarship search tool to find over $10 billion in private aid. Filter available scholarships by school type, ethnicity, gender, field of study, state of residence, award type, and more to make finding a scholarship easier!
2. Complete the FAFSA
Financial aid is the lifeblood of most students attending college. To ensure you have the funds needed to finance your education, make sure you fill out the FAFSA every year you’re in school. Your financial situation could change from one year to the next, so not completing the FAFSA could actually cost you money.
3. Devise a solid educational goal
To help prevent a four-year plan from becoming a five-year or six-year plan, devise a timeline outlining the type of classes and number of credits needed to graduate in four years. Speak to your advisor to ensure you’re applying all college credits you’ve acquired already (such as AP classes, CLEP or DSST exams you’ve passed), and ensure you are taking all necessary classes to complete your degree on time.
4. Get a no fee student credit card
When used responsibly, no fee student credit cards can help fill in the gaps between paychecks or financial aid and can provide you with rewards and rebates for everyday spending. Perhaps the best advantage of acquiring a student credit card is establishing your credit early, which makes it easier to secure an auto loan down the road, or lease an apartment without having a co-signer. Remember to never spend more than you can pay off at the end of the month!
5. Utilize the library
School libraries are full of on-campus resources that can help simplify your student life. Even better, their resources are usually free for students. From books, online databases, videos, and software, many libraries offer materials that can help you prepare for exams or write a research paper. Libraries often provide free tutoring, professional and career development programs, and academic workshops. University librarians are helpful and a great resource to help you find what you’re looking for.
6. Borrow, don’t buy textbooks
With some textbooks costing as much as $200 for a single book, it’s easy to rack up a huge bill every semester. Resist the urge to purchase new textbooks and opt to either buy used or rent textbooks whenever possible. Many places that allow you to rent textbooks online such as Amazon, AbeBooks, or Chegg can save you between 50-90% off the cost of new textbooks.
7. Skip buying a printer
You’d think having your own printer would save you money—that is until you see the cost of ink cartridges. Student fees often include on-campus printing, which means you don’t have to purchase costly ink cartridges. Professors often allow you to submit assignments electronically which reduces the amount of printing costs.
8. Use the campus gym
Working out is a great way to reduce stress and stay focused while attending college, but gym memberships can be costly. Most colleges and universities are equipped with gym facilities for students, including swimming pools, tennis courts, and exercise classes.
9. Ask for student discounts
Many places around college campuses provide student discounts. From restaurants, to retail stores, bowling alleys and movie theaters, students can save money just by flashing their student ID. Make sure to always carry your student ID with you and don’t be afraid to ask if the business you’re visiting offers student discounts before you pay.
10. Attend free campus events
Colleges and universities often host on-campus events such as concerts, career fairs, sporting events, workshops and lectures. Many of these events provide free food, swag, contests, or giveaways of some kind. Check your student calendar or on-campus fliers frequently to find free events you may be interested in.
11. Cut the cord with cable
Say no to cable television and instead opt for an online streaming service such as Hulu, Netflix or Amazon Prime. With so many online options at a fraction of the cost, cable is expensive and obsolete.
12. Find an on-campus job
Working while attending college is necessary for many students, however working on campus provides an added advantage of not having to travel far to get to your job. Also, colleges and universities are oftentimes more understanding of your need to study or finish a research paper, and will allow for more flexibility in your availability to work.
13. Explore internship opportunities
Internship programs are a great way to earn extra college credit while receiving real life work experience. Some internships are available during winter or summer breaks, on weekends, or during school semesters. On occasion, the organization you complete your internship through may have full-time employment opportunities available after you graduate.
14. Live near campus
While living on campus can be expensive, living within walking distance from campus can save you thousands of dollars. Walking to school also saves you hundreds in on-campus parking fees and gas, while also encouraging you to exercise before and after classes. If you aren’t a fan of walking to class, many college campuses or off-campus apartments offer shuttle services to and from school.
15. Make your own meals
Eating on campus or grabbing fast food on your way to class can break your budget. Many students don’t know how to cook or feel that they have time to. Making 20-minute meals or prepping for future meals can end up saving you time and money. There are many cookbooks available that offer quick and simple meals, some even catering to college students. Shake things up by inviting friends over for a potluck.
Adding some or all of these tips can help you save money without compromising your college experience. Let us know if you have any money-saving tips we’ve left out by sending them to PR@petersons.com.