Ways to Lessen the Financial Burden of College

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Ways to Lessen the Financial Burden of College

There's no denying that the college experience is far from free or affordable. Between rising tuition, hidden fees, books and board, it's no wonder many students—and sometimes their parents—go into debt before graduating. However, there are ways to lessen the blow to your bank account—it just requires a little diligence and effort. Try implementing some or all of the tips listed below to shave several dollars off your higher education tab. 

Get a Roommate

If you are venturing out of your hometown for school, odds are you will be living out on your own during your college career. If you're not staying in the on-campus, roommate-assigned dorms and opt rather to live somewhere a bit more "cool" yet "expensive", then you should definitely consider getting a roommate. Not only will they help ease the transition into living alone, they can also cut your rent and living expense in half. Sharing everything from groceries to utilities, you and your roommate will help each other save a ton of money.

Apply for Several Scholarships

Even if you don't think you qualify or have the grades, apply for every scholarship you find. If you win one, don't stop there unless there are imposed rules about having more than one (which generally there aren't). Research every organization, department and groups on campus, as they all usually offer some sort of financial support. No matter your financial, academic or personal situation, apply, apply, and apply— no excuses.

Get a Complementary Part-Time Job or Two

While I was in college, I also worked part time at the campus bookstore, which meant not only were they more than willing to work around my schedule, but—that's right—I also got a hefty discount on my textbook needs. My manager even set up a built in employee borrowing program that allowed my co-workers and me to borrow certain course books each semester—as long as we agreed to return them at the end. 

Now, I am not saying every bookstore will do that, but campuses are chock full of part-time and work-study jobs that are eager for student hires. Recognizing that you are a student, they will often work around your schedule and understand when you need to make minor adjustments for studying or testing. Plus, you never know what else you might get out of it—I saved hundreds, possibly even thousands of dollars on books through mine.

Eat at Home

In addition to fast food and dining hall fare being less than nutritional, it can also be expensive—meaning hoards of people are hurting not only their bodies but also their check books. Repeated runs through the nearest drive-thru prove much more costly than cooking up a simple meal in your own kitchen. If done right, shopping trips to your local grocer can help keep you within your means, as long as you take advantage of sales days and coupons.

Borrow and Share Course Materials

From books to study guides and specific supplies, some courses have no shortage of requirements and stipulations for students. To help save some money, find a peer who either will be or already has taken the course, and try to arrange a deal to either borrow or share his course materials. If the two of you will be sharing, it is easier to simply cut the costs down the middle, while other circumstances should be handled on a case-by-case basis. 

If you will be taking the course at the same time, it's ideal to partner up with someone who is reliable and responsible, and, if possible, possesses a similar schedule and study habits. Granted, this will not always be possible, but if it happens to work out, definitely take advantage of it.

While some of these may seem like small or even obvious tips, you'd be surprised how many people don't take advantage of them. Some people think it's just easier to pay the extra money and save the effort—but that's just not a realistic approach in today's economy. Happy saving and studying!

About the Author:

Stephanie Brooks is a freelance writer and blogger who mostly enjoys covering all things education, including online universities and traditional brick-and-mortar institutions. When she’s not writing, she can be found at the gym working out to Zumba and cooking healthy recipes at home. She welcomes your feedback.

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