10 Tips to Survive College on a Budget

Operating on a college student budget is tricky at best. With little or no steady income, a constant stream of activity, and a highly stressful environment, college students are often just glad to make it through the semester.

Thankfully, there are small steps that college students can take to not just make it through, but save money while in college. By following these ten tips, students can graduate with the financial backing to enter the working world on the right foot.

1.Take advantage of public transportation and carpooling.
Larger cities typically offer public transportation and, by paying one monthly or yearly fee, students can use it limitlessly. Students can also take advantage of gas savings by carpooling with friends to school or when traveling home.

2.Find free food.
One of the great advantages of being a student is the access to free food. Many student organizations will provide meals weekly, as will local churches and government agencies. Students can usually find information on these programs at their student center.

3.Buy books online.
Campus bookstores are known for raising book prices far higher than they should be. Check out online bookstores like Amazon orĀ eBay to save big on textbooks.

4.Sell, sell, sell!
Most college students have things they have collected over the years that they don’t use anymore. Get together and have a garage sale. Sell gently used clothing to a resale store. List old books online. Clean out regularly and collect extra cash for the end-of-semester crunch.

Check the local papers and websites like coupons.com for discounts on items regularly purchased.

6.Stock up.
Things are always cheaper when purchased in bulk. Go in with a roommate and buy the huge pack of toilet paper. It will last all semester!

7.Ask for gift cards.
Sure, that new guitar would be a great Christmas gift, but asking grandma for a gift card to the grocery store will pay off more in the long run.

8.Buy off-brand.
There’s not really much difference between name-brand milk and generic. Off-brands can be dollars cheaper than brand-name items, making them a great source of savings.

9.Skip the take-out.
Everyone has to learn to cook sometime. Buy some basic ingredients and find recipes online. At the very least, bring some of mom’s soup from home and eat leftovers.

10.Skip the movie.
Opt for game night instead. It’s cheaper and offers more face-time with friends.

Paying for College: What You Need to Know

Paying for college can be challenging, but there are many options available to help. It is important to start thinking about it early and develop a plan for how you will pay for a college education. If a parent or other relative will be helping to fund your college education, it is important to have a conversation with them about how much they are prepared to contribute. For students who will be paying their own way, there are several options to make this more manageable.

For many high school students, a part-time job can be a great way to save money for college. Weekends, after-school hours, and school breaks all provide a great opportunity to gain some work experience and make money to put away for college. The summer months provide the perfect time to work more hours and save. Be sure to plan a realistic work schedule during the school year that will allow you to earn money while also keeping up with your academic schedule.

Scholarships and grants are a great way to pay for college. By beginning the process early, you will have time to apply to the many scholarships available both nationally and locally. Websites such as Fastweb are a great resource to find scholarships that match your profile. It is also important to seek out local resources in your community. Many high school guidance offices will be able to help guide you through the application process and recommend good sources of financial assistance.

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will let you know if you qualify to federal grants or loans to help pay for college. Once you are accepted to a college, you will also be able to weigh the financial aid options available from that institution. Most schools offer both merit-based and need-based financial aid for incoming students. The Federal Work Study program is another resource available to students. Through this program, students earn a set amount of funding by working a part-time job, typically in a department on campus, while going to school.

There are many resources available to help students pay for their education. By exploring options, planning ahead, and getting applications in on time, students can devise a good strategy to pay for college.

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